Hare Wynn Selected to Represent the Commonwealth of Kentucky Against Pharmaceutical Giant Merck

Hare Wynn attorneys Scott PowellMatt Minner and Don McKenna have teamed with the outstanding Lexington, Kentucky firm of Garmer and Prather in pursuing claims related to Merck’s false, misleading and deceptive practices in marketing its pain relief drug Vioxx. In 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Vioxx (known generically as rofecoxib), a Merck product for treating arthritis. As a result of Merck’s massive marketing campaign, Vioxx became one of the most prescribed drugs in history bringing in billions of dollars to Merck. Although Merck was aware of significant cardiovascular and overall risks associated with Vioxx, it withheld and failed to communicate that important information to physicians, healthcare providers and consumers in a fair, balanced and complete manner. Despite clear findings as early as 2001 indicating health dangers associated with the drug, Merck still refused to acknowledge and inform consumers about the serious and fatal risks associated with Vioxx. Instead, Merck downplayed the risks and continued to aggressively market Vioxx as a safe and superior pain reliever. Merck sales representatives were given detailed instructions not to mention the potential cardiovascular risks when promoting Vioxx to physicians and other healthcare providers. In September of 2001, a Formal Warning Letter was sent to Merck from the FDA in direct response to its persistent and serious marketing violations in promotion of Vioxx. The FDA referred to Merck’s conduct as “simply incomprehensible.” It has been revealed that, in pursuit of that marketing campaign, Merck created phony medical journals to praise its blockbuster drug. Merck also compensated ghostwriters to create favorable articles for professional journals that had the potential to influence doctors and increase prescriptions. Vioxx was withdrawn from the market in September 2004 after being linked to thousands of heart attacks and strokes. On November 5, 2004, the medical journal The Lancet published the results of its analysis of the available studies. It concluded that “the unacceptable cardiovascular risks of Vioxx (rofecoxib) were evident as early as 2000…” and the journal’s editors criticized Merck for having kept the drug on the market as long as it did knowing the risks.

Hare Wynn has significant experience in pharmaceutical litigation having handled cases across the country involving pharmaceutical giants like Janssen Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKilne, Phizer, Bayer Corporation, Merck, Novartis and CVS among others. Success in difficult and complex pharmaceutical cases requires an experienced team of lawyers with the information and technological resources to take on these challenges. Hare Wynn is uniquely equipped to meet those challenges. The firm has achieved landmark results and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in pharmaceutical cases on behalf of individuals and governmental entities.

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