Merck to pay nearly $1 bln to settle U.S. charges

Tue Nov 22, 2011 3:25pm EST

Nov 22 (Reuters) - Merck & Co will pay roughly $950 million to settle criminal and civil charges that it promoted the painkiller drug Vioxx for an unapproved use, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

The fine will conclude a long-running investigation into Merck's promotion of the drug, which was withdrawn from the market in September 2004. The Justice Department had alleged that Merck promoted the drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis before it had been approved for that condition by the Food and Drug Administration.

Merck had previously disclosed to investors the anticipated $950 million charge ahead of the government announcement.