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Politics & Government

State Drug Program Gets $6.9 Million Boost After Vioxx Lawsuit

Pennsylvania has settled an $8.25 million lawsuit against drug manufacturer Merck for failure to disclose risks involved with the prescription painkiller, Vioxx.  

James A. Donahue III, Acting Executive Deputy Attorney General for Public Protection said if Vioxx's risks were known, the drug would not have been distributed as widely.

"There were a number of studies that showed [Vioxx] had some cardiac problems that could be caused by the drug, and those studies weren't disclosed," Donahue said.  "If people had known about those risks it would have be prescribed less frequently."

After costs of litigation, the settlement amounts to $6.9 million.  Donahue said that will go to the state's PACE program

"This latest lawsuit was really about getting recompense for the PACE program, which is a program that provides prescription drug benefits to low-income elderly who don't qualify for Medicaid," Donahue said.

Pennsylvania residents who are 65 or older and are not enrolled with Medicaid qualify for PACE if household income meets the requirement— less than $17,700  for married couples and less than $14,500 for singles.

Donahue added the state is satisfied with the settlement.