Merck to Pay $950 million to settle Vioxx allegations

Merck has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge and pay $950 million to the federal and state governments to resolve allegations that it illegally marketed its painkiller drug Vioxx for off-label use and made false statements about the drug’s cardiovascular risks. Merck not only withheld data showing that Vioxx increased patient’s risks of heart attack and stroke, but also illegally marketed the drug for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis before receiving FDA approval.  Of its $950 million settlement, Merck will pay $321.6 million to resolve a criminal fine, and $628.3 million to resolve civil allegations brought by the federal and state governments.  Of the civil settlement, the federal government will receive $426.4 million and forty-three state governments will share $202 million.  Merck had already paid $4.85 billion to settle thousands of patient lawsuits related to the heart attacks and strokes allegedly caused by the drug, as well as $1.9 billion in legal costs.

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