Heads on a Stick
Merck Pharmaceuticals Sinful Legacy
Merck's reputation for excellence was seriously tarnished in 2003 when the drug company tried to hide evidence of safety problems with their arthritis medication, Vioxx. They were forced to pay $4.800,000,000 to governments and patients, to resolve thousands of lawsuits.
That's BILLIONS - with a "B".
In 2001 Public Citizen exposed secret documents indicating that Schering-Plough - owned by Merck - had repeatedly failed to meet federal standards at a drug plant in New Jersey. The FDA reported they found even more deficiencies. Schering paid $500,000,000 in penalties.
In 2004 Merck revealed that it owed the IRS $2,000,000,000.
In 2004 Merck pulled Vioxx from the market after patients developed elevated risk of heart and brain damage. The Wall Street Journal revealed that Merck management knew the risks of Vioxx for years and took steps to keep the true dangers of the drug secret.
In 2007 Merck paid $1,600,000 in fines relating to Clean Water Act violations at its drug-making plant in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
In 2008 Merck paid $58,000,000 to 25 states, regarding deceptive Vioxx advertisements.
Also in 2008, Merck paid the federal government $650,000,000 to end a case that the company routinely overbilled Medicaid and made illegal payments to doctors to induce them to prescribe their drugs.
In 2009 Merck paid $41,000,000 in class-action lawsuits regarding hiding unfavorable results of a clinical trial of the cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia.
In 2011 the Justice Department revealed that Merck was ordered to pay $950,000,000 to resolve criminal and civil claims related to Vioxx. Merck confessed to the criminal charge of Violating Federal Drug Law and paid a $321,000,000 criminal fine. $628,000,000 was a settlement of civil charges of false marketing of Vioxx and false statements about the drug’s heart safety.
In 2011 Merck paid a $1.500,000 civil fine when two of its plants in Pennsylvania violated the Clean Air Act.
Also in 2011 Merck paid $24,000,000 for its part with 12 other drug cartels, for overcharging the Massachusetts' Medicaid program.
In 2012 the Louisiana attorney general announced that Merck and four other companies would pay a total of $25,000,000 to resolve allegations that they overcharged the state’s Medicaid program.
In 2016 Merck paid $830,000,000 after being sued by shareholders for being lied to.
So. what exactly did Merck's highest ranking managers learned from all this?
They learned that they can always buy their way out of trouble with the U.S. government. and keep right on raking in billions in the drug biz.
Who cares about the cost of countless thousands of dead and dying citizens, when there's money to be made?