Merck & Co., the second-largest U.S. drugmaker, will pay $950 million and a unit of the company will plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge to resolve a U.S. probe of its illegal marketing of the painkiller Vioxx.
Merck Sharp & Dohme will plead guilty to one count of misbranding Vioxx, the company and U.S. prosecutors said yesterday. The company will pay a $321.6 million criminal fine and $628.3 million to resolve civil claims that it sold Vioxx for unapproved uses and made false statements about its cardiovascular safety.
The “resolution appropriately reflects the severity of Merck’s conduct and is yet another reminder that the government will not tolerate misconduct by drug companies that bend the rules and put patient safety at risk,” Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. attorney in Boston, said yesterday in a statement. Prosecutors in her office led the seven-year investigation into the company’s Vioxx marketing tactics.