Supreme Court won’t hear drugmaker immunity challenge

Oct 3, 2011

Michigan will be not able to recover millions of dollars by spent by the Medicaid program on the drug Vioxx. The Michigan Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a lower court ruling that said the lawsuit is barred by the state’s drug company immunity law.

Michigan has a one-of-a-kind law that shields drug manufacturers from product liability lawsuits as long as the medication was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The law was enacted in the 1990s to help make Michigan more attractive to drug makers. Vioxx was a controversial medication used to treat asthma, but it was pulled from the market in 2004 after it was linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and complaints that Merck tried to cover up the dangers posed by the drug.

Michigan’s lawsuit claims Merck failed to warn the state of the potential dangers when the drug was approved for use by Medicaid patients. The Supreme Court’s rejection lets stand a lower court decision tossing the case.