PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the world's largest drug manufacturers, Merck & Co., Inc. ("Merck"), has agreed to pay more than $400 million to the U.S., 49 states and the District of Columbia to settle qui tam whistleblower-led allegations that the pharmaceutical giant illegally defrauded Medicaid and other public healthcare programs across the U.S., according to a federal Settlement Agreement unsealed today. Merck employed four schemes to grab or maintain market share for drugs including Vioxx(R), Zocor(R), Cozaar(R), Fosamax(R), Maxalt(R), and Singulair(R), according to qui tam whistleblower lawyers Steven H. Cohen, Mark Kleiman and BethAnne Yeager, who represent the whistleblower, a former Merck district sales manager.
Capping a marathon, seven-plus-year investigation among federal and
state authorities and the qui tam whistleblower's legal team, the Merck
case presents several major legal milestones, according to Cohen, Kleiman
and Yeager, including:
-- The first Government recovery from investigation into marketing of
Zocor and Vioxx;
-- The first fully-coordinated whistleblower-federal-state Medicaid fraud
-- The first Medicaid fraud enforcement in which the States, led by
Nevada, tested an innovative -- and successful -- prosecution theory;
-- The first federal and state nominal price Medicaid fraud settlement;
-- The second largest civil False Claims Act ("FCA") recovery to federal
and state Medicaid programs.
Although Merck did not admit to wrongdoing, in addition to returning $400 million to taxpayers, the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based drug manufacturer has agreed to be bound by a Corporate Integrity Agreement, according to Cohen, who, along with Yeager is associated with the Whistleblower Action Network in Chicago.
"Our relator, a former Merck sales manager, blew the whistle on Merck
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