WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- The Obama administration filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court siding with investors hoping to sue Merck and Co. over its now-withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.
In a friend-of-the-court brief, administration officials argued shareholders filed securities lawsuits in a timely manner against the Whitehouse Station, N.J., pharmaceutical giant, Legal Newsline reported Monday.
The lawsuits allege Merck deliberately misrepresented the safety of Vioxx, taken off the market in 2004 over concerns it more than doubled risks of heart attack and stroke. Merck maintains it properly informed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and scientific officials about Vioxx's data as information emerged. Merck agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits claiming that Vioxx caused heart attacks and strokes in some patients.
Based on the statute of limitations, a U.S. District Court in New Jersey in April 2007 granted Merck's motion to dismiss the consolidated class-action against the company, finding sufficient public information was available before Nov. 6, 2001, to trigger the plaintiffs' duty to investigate the alleged fraud.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, determining no warning of the alleged fraud existed for more than two years before the original complaint was filing.
Merck appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments are scheduled for Nov. 30.