Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. will pay roughly $950 million to settle claims that the company promoted Vioxx for rheumatoid arthritis before treatment for that condition was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The settlement is one of the largest in the nation over off-label promotion.
“We will not hesitate to pursue those who skirt the proper drug approval process and make misleading statements about the safety and efficacy of their products,” said Tony West, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department.
Merck said the settlement does not mean it admits any wrongdoing.
In 2007, the company also agreed to pay almost $5 billion to former Vioxx users who alleged the pill caused heart attacks. Vioxx was removed from the marketplace in September of 2004 after being linked to heart risks.