Drug Maker Merck Resolves Outstanding Vioxx Claims With $950 Million Payment

In 2004 pharmaceutical drug maker Merck pulled the painkiller Vioxx from the market after evidence showed that the drug doubled the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Following the drugs removal the company in 2007 paid $4.85 billion to settle nearly 50,000 Vioxx-related lawsuits and today the company has agreed to one final $950 million payment.

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced that Merck will pay $321.6 million in criminal fines and $628.3 million as part of a civil settlement agreement.

Following their payments the company will also have a misdemeanor placed on their records for marketing Vioxx as a rheumatoid arthritis drug before the FDA offered their approval.

The current lawsuit noted that Merck provided false, unproven and often misleading statements about Vioxx’s safety when speaking with doctor’s and Medicaid officials.

Speaking directly about today’s settlement Merck officials say the deal does not constitute an admission of liability regarding the drug and any wrongdoing at the company. The U.S. Government has also said that there is no basis to conclude that Merck’s upper management were involved in the various violations that were discussed during the company’s settlement agreement.

As a final part of their settlement offer the company will now be supervised by a group of governmental watchdogs to ensure future drug practices do not follow the same nefarious course.

Do you think the Vioxx issue is finally over with now that users and the government have been paid out billions of dollars over issues relating directly to the drugs negative side effects which in some cases included death?

[Vioxx molecular structure image via ShutterStock.com]