KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Merck Agrees To Pay $950 Million In Vioxx Settlement

The pharmaceutical giant will pay a $321 million criminal fine and a $628 million civil settlement.

The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times: Merck To Pay $950 Million To Settle Vioxx Investigation
The Justice Department said Tuesday that drug maker Merck & Co. will pay $950 million to resolve investigations into its marketing of the painkiller Vioxx. ... In 2007, the company paid $4.85 billion to settle about 50,000 Vioxx-related lawsuits. The Justice Department said the settlement resolves allegations that Merck made false, unproven or misleading statements about Vioxx's safety to increase sales and made false statements to Medicaid agencies about its safety (11/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Merck To Pay $950 Million In Vioxx Settlement
The settlement of a seven-year U.S. government investigation brings Merck closer to resolving the mountain of litigation that followed the company's 2004 withdrawal of the big-selling drug from the market after a study showed it increased the risk for heart attacks and strokes (Loftus and Kendall, 11/23).

CNN Money: Merck To Pay $950 Milion For Illegal Marketing Of Vioxx
Under the agreement, Merck will plead to a misdemeanor for the illegal promotion and pay a $321 million criminal fine. The firm also agreed to a civil settlement under which it will pay $628 million to resolve allegations of off-label marketing and false statements about the cardiovascular safety of Vioxx (Frieden, 11/22).

NPR: Remember Vioxx? Merck Settles Marketing Charges From Way Back
The settlement of those charges "does not constitute any admission by Merck of any liability or wrongdoing," the company said in a statement. "We believe that Merck acted responsibly and in good faith in connection with the conduct at issue in these civil settlement agreements, including activities concerning the safety profile of Vioxx," Bruce N. Kuhlik, Merck's general counsel, said in the statement. The settlement has been expected for a while. Merck set aside money to cover the cost more than a year ago (Hensley, 11/22).

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