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Michigan loses prescription drug lawsuit

The state Court of Appeals today ruled against Michigan in a prescription drug case.  The decision could cost the state millions of dollars. 

In 2004, the pharmaceutical company Merck pulled the arthritis drug, Vioxx, off the market, because it caused serious heart and other health problems.

Michigan sued trying to recoup millions of tax dollars the state spent to get the drug for Medicaid patients.  The lawsuit accused drug-maker Merck of making false claims.  But the Appeals Court ruled Merck is protected by Michigan’s drug liability law.  The 1995 law strictly limits liability lawsuits against drug companies in Michigan.

Merck has paid more than 4 billion dollars to settle tens of thousands of lawsuits claiming Vioxx harmed or killed users. 

Michigan’s Attorney General’s office has not decided whether to appeal the court’s ruling. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.