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Home Industry News MSD fights against insurers plans to sue over Vioxx

MSD fights against insurers plans to sue over Vioxx

20th March 2007

A lawyer for Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) has claimed that nationwide union health plans and health insurance companies should not be permitted to sue the company for money spent on prescriptions for withdrawn drug Vioxx.

With thousands of individual product liability suits being conducted regarding the compound, State Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee granted class-action status to a consumer fraud suit from the firms in July 2005, a decision that was backed by a state appellate court in March 2006, the Associated Press reports.

John Beisner, a lawyer from the firm, said that the health insurance firms had each made their own individual decisions based on different information regarding their prescribing of the drug.

He claimed that a lawsuit, one potentially worth over $15 billion (7.67 billion pounds), would result in the imposition of New Jersey law on other states.

“It would be a radical departure from how the Consumer Fraud Act has been interpreted previously,” said Mr Beisner.

Earlier this month, MSD announced that it would appeal the recent decision of a New Jersey state court jury which assessed compensatory and punitive damages in a lawsuit relating to Vioxx.

Hope Freiwald of Dechert LLP, a member of the defence team of MSD, explained that the company was displeased with the unusual two-plaintiff, multi-phased structure of the trial as one which may cause bias or potential confusion among the jury.

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