Merck Settles Criminal Investigation of Vioxx

Merck & Co., the second largest US pharmaceutical manufacturer, can’t seem to stop paying for its failed drug Vioxx. First, there were defective product lawsuits that had to be settled because Vioxx was linked to heart attacks and strokes. Now, the pharmaceutical giant has had to settle a criminal case with the federal government for $950 million regarding an investigation of illegal marketing practices involving Vioxx.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, “An official of Merck Sharp & Dohme said today that the company agreed to plead guilty to one count of misbranding Vioxx. U.S. District Judge Patti Saris in Boston accepted the plea as part of the drugmaker’s agreement to pay a $321.6 million criminal fine and $628.3 million to resolve civil claims that it sold Vioxx for unapproved uses and improperly touted its safety.
“I’m certainly going to accept this agreement because I think it’s in the public interest,” Saris said from the bench. “I hope the size of this settlement and the fact that all these cases are being pressed by the federal and state governments — the 44 states’ attorneys general — will be a signal that this isn’t acceptable conduct.”