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Attorney General Marty Jackley

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Attorney General Larry Long Files Judgment Against Merck

Attorney General Larry Long Files Judgment Against Merck 

PIERRE, S.D.-     Attorney General Larry Long announced today that South Dakota and 29 other states have obtained court orders against Merck and Company, Inc. settling a three-year investigation by 30 states concerning the company’s deceptive promotion of the drug Vioxx. In addition to a $58 million payment to the participating states with South Dakota’s share being $1,082,946, the judgment will largely restrict Merck’s ability to deceptively promote any Merck product. 

The judgment requires Merck to submit all “direct to consumer” television drug advertisements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), wait for approval and comply with FDA comments before running the advertisement.  Merck must also comply with any recommendation by FDA to delay advertising for new pain relieving drugs.  

“Marketing drugs before their risks are fully understood is simply too dangerous,” said Long. “This action gives the FDA clear discretion and authority to make just such an assessment on all new Merck pain drugs and requires them to submit television ads to the FDA for suggested revisions and acceptance of the final product before running the ads.”

Other concerns of the states are either prohibited or curtailed in the judgment including: 

  • deceptive use of scientific data when marketing to doctors; 
  • “ghost writing” of articles and studies;
  • failing to adequately disclose the conflict of interest of Merck promotional speakers when these speakers present in supposedly “independent” education seminars; and
  • Conflicts of interest in Merck sponsored Data Safety Monitoring Boards.

Consumers wanting more information about this settlement may call the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or email at