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Attorney General William Sorrell Announces Multi-State Settlement Regarding Cholesterol Drug Vytorin

CONTACT: Christy Mihaly, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5479

July 15, 2009 - At the conclusion of an investigation with 35 other states, Attorney General William H. Sorrell has announced a settlement with the pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co. and Shering-Plough Corporation. The Attorney General investigated the delay of the release of negative reports regarding drugs made by the companies. “Doctors and consumers need real information on prescription drugs, ” Attorney General Sorrell said. “This settlement will compensate us for our costs of investigation, and will put into place important protections for Vermont consumers.” For its work on the investigation, Vermont will receive $100,000.

In 2006, a clinical trial of the cholesterol lowering drug Vytorin® found that Vytorin was no more effective at reducing formation of plaque in carotid arteries than the cheap, generically available cholesterol lowering drug simvastatin. Although the study ended in May 2006, the complete results were not published until April 2008. Prior to release of the study results, the companies heavily promoted Vytorin in direct-to-consumer advertisements.

The agreement extends the broad terms of a 2008 settlement with Merck, on its promotional and marketing practices for Vioxx. Under the new settlement, the companies must:

  • Obtain pre-approval from FDA for all direct-to-consumer television advertisements and comply with FDA suggestions for modification;
  • Register clinical trials and post their results;
  • Reduce conflicts of interest; and
  • Comply with detailed rules prohibiting the deceptive use of clinical trials.

The companies will pay a total of $5,400,000 to the States for their investigative costs.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.