Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox Announces Vioxx Consumer Refund Program

Published: Dec 14, 2004

LANSING, Mich., Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 today.

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 at:

Consumer Protection Division P.O. Box 30213 Lansing, MI 48909 517-373-1140 Fax: 517-241-3771 Toll free: 877-765-8388 http://www.michigan.gov/ag (online complaint form)

Web site: http://www.michigan.gov/aghttp://www.vioxx.com/rofecoxib/vioxx/consumer/patient_refund_information.jsp

Michigan Attorney General

CONTACT: Randall Thompson of Michigan Attorney General's office,+1-517-373-8060

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