The New York Times reported today that Merck pled guilty to “illegally introducing a drug into interstate commerce” for its sale of Vioxx. As part of the plea, Merck entered into a larger settlement in which it agreed to pay $950 million. According to the New York Times, Merck will pay a $321 million criminal fine, while $628 million will go to the federal government and state medicaid agencies to settle civil claims.
Vioxx was withdrawn from the market in 2004 after studies showed that it doubled the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. The $950 million payment announced today is in addition to previous Vioxx settlements of approximately $4.85 billion paid to settle individual lawsuits. Merck also faces an investor lawsuit for its handling of the Vioxx drug.