Merck Settles Drug Kickback Case

Merck Serono SA, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, has settled its drug kickback case with the US Justice Department by agreeing to pay $44.3 million. Federal prosecutors were pursuing charges against Merck that the drug maker illegally paid doctors to prescribe their multiple sclerosis drug Rebif to patients. The investigation concerned the company’s activities from 2002-2009. The Justice Department found that Merck paid doctors to go to training conferences and seminars at upscale, posh resorts in exchange for prescribing the MS drug.
“The health care of our seniors and other vulnerable citizens under the Medicare and Medicaid programs should be based upon sound medical decisions, not upon decisions tainted by influence and corruption,” said Tony West, assistant attorney for the Justice Department’s civil division.
Merck is not the only pharmaceutical company to have legal issues with the Justice Department. Both Eli Lilly and Pfizer have paid similar penalties for kickback schemes. Unfortunately, such financial penalties don’t deter such large companies from engaging in illegal activity. The profits the companies stand to make far outweighs the financial penalties they face if the federal government investigates them.