CHARLESTON -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw and 35 other attorneys general have announced a major settlement with two drug companies that delayed negative findings from a clinical trial.
The states settlement, announced Wednesday, with Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough over their aggressive marketing of the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin involves marketing mandates for the companies as well as $5.4 million payment to reimburse the attorneys general for investigative work.
The lawsuits hinged on the companies delay of the disclosure of a clinical study that showed the brand name Vytorin was no more effective in lowering cholesterol than simvastatin, a cheaper, generically available drug.
The companies marketed the drug as a more effective than simvastatin alone. Vytorin is a combination of the drug Zetia and simvastatin.
"Full disclosure is the cornerstone of consumer protection laws," said McGraw in a statement. "Merck & Schering-Plough's agreement to register their clinical trials and post their results will allow consumers, and their doctors, to make informed decisions about their health."
The clinical trial was completed in May 2006, but the companies did not release the actual results until 2008, the attorneys general said. Nevertheless, the companies continued to advocate Vytorin as a more effective solution.
In addition to the reimbursements to the states, the companies have to have any television ads for the drug approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
The companies also have agreed to post clinical trial results in a timely fashion.
The other participating attorneys general were from: the District of Columbia, Arizona, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Colorado, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Dakota, South Carolina, Vermont, Texas, Illinois, Washington, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina and Ohio.