Oregon state Treasurer Randall Edwards and Attorney General Hardy Myers filed lawsuits against Merck & Co. Inc. and Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. to recover $25 million in losses incurred by the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund, Salem, which invested in both firms, according to a news release.
The suit against Merck and eight current and former company officials seeks more than $15 million in damages, alleging the failure to disclose important information about the firm's prescription drug Vioxx cost the $46 billion Oregon fund. It had purchased more than 1 million shares of Merck stock at "inflated prices, before the truth was revealed," the news release said.
The suit against Marsh & McLennan and two of its former officials — Jeffrey Greenberg, former chairman and CEO, and Ray Groves, who was chairman and CEO of subsidiary Marsh — seeks $10 million in damages. It claims the Oregon fund, which invested in the stock beginning in 2003, "paid an inflated price for Marsh stock based on Marsh's false statements, misleading financial reports, and the belief that Marsh operated according to a strict code of ethics," according to the release.
Both lawsuits were filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland.
"As of yet, Merck has not had an opportunity to review the complaint," Ted Mayer of Hughes Hubbard & Reed, outside counsel for Merck, said in a statement. "However, we disclosed information about the safety profile of Vioxx in a prompt and responsible manner."
Barbara Perlmutter, spokeswoman at Marsh, said it is company policy not to comment on lawsuits.