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Two drug firms sued over marketing

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Two pharmaceutical companies are being sued in the US over claims they marketed their branded cholesterol drugs as being more effective than generic versions.

Lawsuits have been filed in federal courts in California, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio alleging Merck and Schering-Plough misled consumers.

The fraud suits were submitted on behalf of patients and medical insurers who paid for Vytorin (ezetimibe/simvastatin) and Zetia (ezetimibe).

Louisiana attorney Daniel Becnel, who is coordinating the legal effort, said cases are pending in several other states and Puerto Rico, and may eventually be filed in every state except Michigan, which prohibits these kinds of lawsuits against drug manufacturers.

“We just have hundreds and hundreds of (potential) clients contacting us every day, asking to be represented in the matter,” he added.

Merck spokeswoman Amy Rose said the company could not comment on the lawsuits because it has not seen them.

But she added: “Vytorin and Zetia have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol in numerous clinical studies, and they have been approved by the FDA for that indication.

“The company will vigorously defend against any allegations or claims to the contrary.”

A Schering-Plough spokesman also denied the claims.

The move comes less than two weeks after Merck and Schering-Plough released a controversial study that raised questions about whether Vytorin and Zetia are more effective than generics.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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