Merck Pays $615 Million in Vioxx Settlement

     JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - Merck Sharp & Dohme will pay $615 million to 43 states and the federal government to settle claims about its marketing of Vioxx.
     Merck pushed Vioxx as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis before the Food and Drug Administration approved it for that, and misled consumers about the cardiovascular safety of Vioxx, which Merck pulled from the market in 2004.
     Merck cited increased "cardiovascular events" among Vioxx-users in pulling the drug from the shelves.
     Merck pleaded guilty to violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and will pay a criminal fine and forfeiture of more than $300 million.
     Missouri will get more than $13.8 million from the settlement, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said.