Merck to Pay Nearly $1 Billion for Illegal Marketing of Recalled Drug Vioxx

Posted on November 28, 2011

An estimated 20,000 patients took the pain reliever, Vioxx, also know to double the risk of heart attack and stroke. Despite that, Merck & Co. kept on marketing the blockbuster that made Merck $2.5 billion annually before thousands suffered heart conditions and died, with Vioxx being recalled in September 2004.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is wrapping up its settlement with Merck and on Tuesday, November 22, the DOJ announced Merck & Co. of Whitehouse Station, N.J., will plead guilty to charges it illegally promoted the drug and pay $950 million to settle criminal charges of illegal promotion, a misdemeanor, and a civil settlement to reimburse the U.S. and 43 states as well as the District of Columbia regarding false statements and off-label marketing.

Merck is accused of promoting Vioxx for off-label use for rheumatoid arthritis, even though the drug had not been approved for RA until April 2002.

This $950 million is among the top five settlement records in history. Merck insists the settlement is not an admission of liability, however, as part of the settlement Merck & Co. will enter into an integrity agreement with the Office of Inspector General and HHS. As part of the settlement, Merck has also agreed to enter into an expansive corporate integrity agreement that requires top company officials to file compliance certificates annually and Merck to post payouts to physicians on its website, a possible conflict of interest admission.

In November 2007, the pharmaceutical giant agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle personal injury claims of those harmed by the recalled product, an estimated 27,000 people. Many others did not file claims because they ran out of time or live in Michigan, which does not allow citizens to file any lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies. About $4 billion went to patients who suffered heart attacks and $850 million went to stroke patients.

The Tallahassee medical malpractice lawyers with Farah & Farah can help you in your injury claim. Call us for a consultation on your case today at (800) 533-3555.


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