I've been on the road all week -- but as expected, the very able Judge Patti Saris accepted the agreed plea in the Vioxx® matter, putting at least the criminal portion in the US in Merck's rear-view mirror (a few thousand civil opt-out cases still remain open and pending globally, however), per Bloomberg reporting):
. . . .An official of Merck Sharp & Dohme said today that the company agreed to plead guilty to one count of misbranding Vioxx. U.S. District Judge Patti Saris in Boston accepted the plea as part of the drugmaker’s agreement to pay a $321.6 million criminal fine and $628.3 million to resolve civil claims that it sold Vioxx for unapproved uses and improperly touted its safety.
“I’m certainly going to accept this agreement because I think it’s in the public interest,” Saris said from the bench. “I hope the size of this settlement and the fact that all these cases are being pressed by the federal and state governments -- the 44 states’ attorneys general -- will be a signal that this isn’t acceptable conduct[,” said Judge Saris. . . .]
“The government recognized Merck’s full cooperation with its investigation. . .” Ron Rogers, a Merck spokesman, said today in an e-mailed statement about the plea. . . .
However, Merck never admitted (nor denied) civil responsibility -- in the overall plea deal. So it goes.