LANSING, Mich., Dec. 13 2004 – LAWFUEL – First with law news — As a result of Attorneys General’s efforts, drug manufacturer Merck has agreed to significantly alter its consumer refund program for unused Vioxx, Attorney General Mike Cox announced
On September 30, 2004, drug manufacturer Merck announced the immediate
withdrawal of its blockbuster prescription pain drug, Vioxx, from the United
States and global markets. Merck withdrew Vioxx because of reports that Vioxx
substantially increased some Vioxx users’ risks of heart attack and strokes
and created a consumer refund program. The program was designed to reimburse
consumers for any Vioxx they had on hand at the time of the recall. Among
other things, the program required consumers to return all unused Vioxx to
Merck in order to qualify for a refund.
While Cox was pleased that consumers would be reimbursed for unused Vioxx,
he felt the refund program contained too many hurdles before reimbursement
would occur. Based on action from Cox’s office in coordination with seven
other state Attorneys General, Vioxx has changed its refund program.
“I know how expensive medications can be, and I will do everything I can
to help consumers save money when it comes to their prescriptions,” Cox said.
“I’m glad that Merck is working with us to create a more user-friendly refund
program. It certainly is to the benefit of all citizens.”
Effective last week, Merck has agreed to do the following for former Vioxx
patients: 1. Provide consumers who have Vioxx, upon request, with prepaid UPS
mailers, which Merck can arrange to pick up at consumers’ homes; 2. Allow
consumers who destroyed unused Vioxx to certify in writing that they had
unused Vioxx on September 30, 2004, but that they later destroyed the product
under doctors’ orders or otherwise; 3. Allow consumers to file claims for a
refund by March 31, 2005 (the former deadline was December 31, 2004); 4. Make
a good faith effort to notify consumers about the refund program in future
advertisements or print notices about Vioxx; 5.
Through Merck’s sales staff,
contact rheumatologists and primary care doctors who prescribed Vioxx with
information about the modified refund program so the doctors can then
distribute to patients that were taking Vioxx; 6. Work with HMOs and
pharmacies to mail out updated refund notices to consumers who purchased Vioxx
and who may be eligible for a product refund; 7. Directly contact any
consumers whose refund claims were rejected by Merck because the consumers did
not return the product, and tell those consumers they would be eligible to
make a refund claim without returning the product.
Consumers seeking a refund for unused Vioxx should contact the Merck
Refund Center (National Notification Center) at (800) 805-9542. Additional
refund information can be found at http://www.vioxx.com/rofecoxib/vioxx/consumer/patient_refund_information.jsp .
Attorney General Cox urges any former Vioxx user to contact the Michigan
Attorney General Consumer Protection Division if they have any difficulty
filing a claim with Merck under the new program. The Division can be reached