Merck has agreed to pay $950 million to settle charges it illegally marketed Vioxx, the painkiller that doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes, the Justice Department said late on Tuesday.
The department said that Merck will pay a criminal fine of $321.6 million; it also will pay $628.3 million to resolve civil charges for having sold Vioxx for unapproved uses, and for making false claims about its safety.
The company has already paid $4.85 billion to patients who sued over deaths and injuries they say were caused by Vioxx, which was pulled off the market in 2004. More than 26,000 lawsuits were pending when Merck agreed to settle.
In the latest case, the Justice Department said that the company would plead guilty to distributing a misbranded drug. Merck promoted Vioxx for use in treating rheumatoid arthritis. The Food and Drug Administration had approved it to treat osteoarthritis. Both conditions cause joint pain.