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Pharmaceutical giant, Merck & Co. Inc., has reached an agreement with 28 states to settle claims that the company used deceptive marketing practices for the recalled painkiller Vioxx. The $58 million settlement is the “largest consumer protection settlement to date,” having to do with the marketing of a drug. The judgment bans future deceptive use of scientific data and highly publicized “ghost writing” tactics employed by the company.

Late last year Merck agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle individual lawsuits brought forth on behalf of people who suffered strokes, heart attacks, and death after taking the one time blockbuster painkiller, Vioxx.

In a statement released by the company to Bloomberg Business News, Bruce Kuhlik, Merck’s general counsel, said the company “remains committed to communications that help patients and their physicians choose medicines based on accurate, fair and balanced information. Today’s agreement enables Merck to put this matter behind us and focus on what Merck does best, developing new medicines.”

Big pharma generates billions in sales each year and throughout history has repeatedly used deceptive tactics to gain a competitive advantage and increase profits. Down the road I am sure we will see what kind of an impact this settlement has on the questionable tactics used throughout the industry and just how devoted Merck is to placing consumer safety over the bottom line.

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