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Merck pays $1bn penalty in relation to promotion of rofecoxib

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 28 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7702
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

The international drug firm Merck agreed with the US Department of Justice on 22 November to pay $950m (£615m; €720m) to resolve criminal and civil charges over the promotion and marketing of its painkiller rofecoxib (Vioxx).

In 2007 Merck paid $4.85bn to settle about 26 000 lawsuits relating to the drug in state and federal courts (BMJ 2007;335:1011, doi:10.1136/bmj.39398.517176.DB).

The recent fines relate to a long Justice Department investigation of Merck’s promotion of rofecoxib. The funds will go to the US government and to the Medicaid federal insurance scheme for poor people, which paid for the drug under its programmes. Merck did not admit liability or wrongdoing but entered a corporate integrity agreement to strengthen the …

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