Merck—Too Big to Prosecute?

Merck too big to prosecuteThere is a surprising reason why the government won’t go after drug companies for serious crimes.

It is because government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Administration would then be barred from doing business with them!

In 1999 the FDA approved Vioxx, a drug created by Merck and Co. to treat arthritis. Vioxx was pulled off the market in 2004 because evidence showed it greatly increased the risk of heart attack in the 25 million Americans who had taken the drug. Some 50,000 patients sued, and 27,000 of the plaintiffs received $4.85 billion in settlement of their claims.

Last week the Department of Justice announced that Merck has agreed to pay a $321 million criminal fine and plead guilty to one misdemeanor count of illegally introducing a drug into interstate commerce. Merck also is paying $426 million to the federal government and $202 million to state Medicaid agencies. Those payments will settle civil claims that its marketing caused doctors to prescribe and bill the government for Vioxx they otherwise would not have prescribed.

Please note that these settlements are for rather minor infractions—not for deliberately concealing the danger of a killing drug from patients, the medical community, and their investors. Despite the serious consequences of Merck’s actions, the government won’t prosecute them for any serious charges—because, if they did and won, it would mean they would have to stop doing business with Merck in the future! Federal law makes it illegal for Medicare and Medicaid to do business with “an excluded or debarred entity resulting from serious criminal charges.”

This means that when a company becomes too deeply enmeshed in the government’s business, these companies simply become too big to prosecute!

Paying fines without serious criminal charges does not appear to be enough of a deterrent. A new report from the consumer group Public Citizen shows that the pharmaceutical industry now leads all other industries in fraud against the federal government—and that includes the defense industry! Big Pharma led the pack in the total amount of fraud payments for actions against the federal government under the False Claims Act. Four companies (GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and Schering-Plough) accounted for more than half (53 percent or $10.5 billion) of all financial penalties imposed over the past two decades.

In 2006, Dr. David Graham, associate director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety and a courageous whistleblower, said in an interview, “The FDA is responsible for 140,000 heart attacks and 60,000 dead Americans. That’s as many people as were killed in the Vietnam War. Yet the FDA points the finger at me and says, ‘Well, this guy’s a rat, you can’t trust him,’ but nobody is calling them to account. Congress isn’t calling them to account. For the American people, it’s dropped off the radar screen. They should be screaming because this can happen again.”

If a supplement killed 60,000 Americans, what do you think the reaction would be? It would be pulled from the shelves, the FDA would outlaw it, and the media would be screaming about the dangers of supplements. Vioxx does the same thing, and the FDA gives Merck a slap on the wrist and gets a financial settlement.

As Public Citizen told NPR, “The current system of prosecution and recovery isn’t working, because companies can take even the biggest settlements in stride. What’s needed is more criminal prosecution—and the prospect of jail time for Pharma executives.”

ANH-USA is not trying to put anybody in jail. But if we pass laws, they should apply to everyone, including members of Congress and big companies, whether on Wall Street or in the drug industry. Crony capitalist arrangements between government and special interests should never be allowed to create a special category of “too big to prosecute.”


  1. Crony capitalism is one thing but the big chem and big pharma companies control the government and this is a serious problem for the people. Many people who are ill could get well if we improved the food supply as it is High Fructose Corn Syrup and fungal concoctions that are causing many ill health and many allergy problems.

    1. Not prosecuting any drug company because of fear of retaliation from them is contrary to our country’s policies of not negotiating with terrorists. It’s not any different than any other terror group and the solution is simple. If they don’t play by the rules then their rights to sell drugs to Americans in this country should be immediately recinded. I also think we should either totally disband the FDA, or at least make it a ruling that ANY ONE with any ties what-so-ever to drug companies or their families be totally barred from consideration. Further more, they should have term limits of 2 years, period.
      In situations like this the drug companies retaliate by charging 3 and 4 times or more money for what they produce, in effect taking that money to pay their fines. Ridiculous. Until we prosecute them it will never change.

    2. In this country when anyone contributes to life taking or intrudes pain and suffering on human beings there are laws against it. So pray tell, how and why is it that when it comes to what the FDA and their pharmaceutical cronies have committed on human lives in our country for decades they have not been brought to answer in a court of law?????????????????????????
      It would appear that as long as it is not a knife, gun, automobile or visible weapon of potential harm and have enough money to pay for killing people one can get away with crimes against humanity.
      It is almost as if they have a so what ism type of mindset when the rights of citizens is concerned.
      Depopulate and get paid for it. When if ever will those who are supposed to truly comply with the Constitutional rights of We the people, ever get on the stick and do their jobs of protecting and monitoring ethically matters as grave and serious as these. It would appear that the mindsets of WW2 is very much alive and well within what is supposed to be our “FREE?” country.

      1. I think this person means harmful additives that are put into our foods. If you read labels, you’ll find a lot of ingredients that sound more like lab reports than food items. Take MSG, for example. It’s been proven that this preservative can cause many health problems. When brought to their attention, food manufacturers that are in compliance with the FDA, will simply change the name of this and other ingredients that can cause illness if ingested. So if you see something that sounds harmless, like a vegetable additive, chances are it’s still MSG with an alias.

    3. How else does one get passed a Part D “voluntary” drug card, through Medicare other than tyranny from big government corporations?
      How is it one can be penalized 1% per month for each month you do not elect susscription into the Part D drug program and still call it voluntary?
      Has shades of another sham eh!

  2. DownsizeDC’s “Write The Laws Act” would go a long way toward preventing this kind of “Crony Capitalism”.
    As individuals, we can each contribute to this solution, learn more at

  3. Fair and consistent law enforcement should always be the goal. One way to hopefully change the behavior of legislators and law enforcement is to continually publicize their specific failings and offer alternatives..

    1. The FDA does not prosecute medical manufacturers and devices because many of the people who work for the FDA have financial interest in the drug companies. There has to be major legislative changes in the FDA to protect the healthcare worker and the patient. It’s an emergency.

  4. to day we need to go with narural health producfs. they are safe no side affects.
    to lower costs and save ;oves the natural way is best.
    all disease are cureable with natural products.
    some of the best are essential oils but herds will do it too.
    uts very easy to do and the cost is with in reach or all.
    if ins co would except that way our ins bills would come down fast.
    the fda can not be trusted to safe gjuard our lives any more.
    when the side affects say can kill u onlt a fool will take that drug.

  5. Begin with education. Teach biofeedback and neurofeedback in public school staring by 5th grade (10-year-olds). They can learn to focus attention (most can learn without ridalin). They can learn to manage stress, to prevent many illnesses that are caused by the habit of reacting negatively to stress. For lesson plans and theory I have created an 80-page booklet called “SELF-DISCOVERY SCIENCE” that includes a 40″ electromagnetic spectrum chart in color for easy understanding of the direct relationship between Earth frequencies and those of the Sun. The Earth-Ionosphere Wave Guide is a standing wave around the Earth. Its dominant frequencies are in the alpha/theta brainwaves (generally our relaxation state). City kids need to learn about their direct relationship to earth, sun, moon. See for a free guide to managing your own health.

  6. Perhaps if the big guys served a prison term, they would be easier to deal with. Something has to be done as these guys are decimating our great country causing death & financial ruin. Thank you for reading this.

  7. No one should be too big to fail. Penalties should make a company hurt, however, they currently only slap a wrist, so this practice continues and more people become more ill.
    If we haven’t learned that lesson by now, what would it take to finally get it? No company should be too big to fail and be bailed out by the very people they are slowly killing! H E L L O
    FDA ok’d these drugs, by these corrupt drug makers and allow the companies to make people more ill than originally presented.
    Make sense to you? Well, if we are kept sick and ill, the wallets of Big Pharma stay full and we die off.
    There is no one in charge any longer, looking out for everyone’s better health, and we know it.

  8. There is something very wrong when our government is working overtime to protect the interests of big pharma as being of greater importance than that of the health of he citizenry. It really glared at me when the Supreme Court rendered the decision this past year to make it such that the health consumer could no longer so much as sue vaccine manufacturers for health damages caused by their products, yet our schools continue to demand that our children receive these potentially hazardous substances delivered by injection before those children are permitted to take part in the school classroom. It is an outrage and our people need to begin taking some sort of action to hold these drug manufacturers accountable for their crimes against the health of our citizenry. We the People need to see our government taking steps toward our protection.

    1. Wow you are so right. They require these vaccines for school, yet we have no recourse if anything goes wrong. I am not necessarily anti vaccine (that’s a whole other post). I guess now the Supreme Court is also bought and payed for. Thank the universe for all of us who are growing the community who have pulled back the curtain on what is going on in our government. It is such a huge problem I’m not sure how it will be fixed, at this point I guess by continuing small victories, but at least so many of us are awake! When doctors start standing up in big numbers we might get some attention. Also I strongly agree with Linda below – I think if we put a face on these people start calling them out, get some humanity into the mix. I think there is a website that has something similar, but at least has some exposing.
      Really this is getting insane that we the people have no say in the government but the moneyed interests sure do.
      Also I have really enjoyed reading the comments here, they are insightful, and not catty.

    2. I have said this before and I will say it again: The constitution provides for the citizens over throw of an oppressive government. Isn’t the government protection of an entity who kills us an oppressive government?

  9. I believe that no one is above the law. No one is so rich that they cannot be held accountable and no corporation of all things is to big to be taken to task. What must happen is that the CEO of a ccorporation is accountable. No taking some minor executive and prosecuting that person. It must be a CEO or at the least the CFO. It only has to happen one or two times and things will change drastically,when these people have to go to jail and pay Billions in fines.

  10. Our government has been profiting and helping corporations profit by making us sick for decades. This is not news and it’s no accident. I get it…sick people are return customers. But dead people are not. This has all gone way too far!

  11. This is why I work very hard to use natural methods as well as acupuncture. I do not know who is responsible for the flu shots but I refuse to get one. Once you take away to possibility of be held accountable for preventable side effects (class action law suits $$$$) you take away the motivation for strong over site and work integrity.

  12. Being a retired Nurse (38 yrs of service) I feel so guilty, handing out medications for so many years.
    Makes me wonder how many patients developed symptoms/died after taking certain medications, that are now know to cause heart attacks and other organ failures? I just saw a commercial for people to contact attorneys if they’d taken Plavix, and had bleeding ulcers/brain bleeds, etc. HUH???? My own doctor tried to convince me TO TAKE PLAVIX, but of course I refused. I refused to take aspirin everyday, also. I read that taking aspirin daily can create a problem with your eyesight. It’s always something!!! People depend far too much on our FDA, and take pills to solve every health issue. Folks need to think for themselves, start taking responsibility for their own health. Use natural products. Look medications up before taking them.

    1. Continued use of aspirin has also been linked to hearing loss. As recently as 6 months ago a study was released showing as much as an 83% chance of developing pancreatic cancer by ingesting 81 mg of aspirin twice per day for a period of three years. The scientists conducting the study in part believe this is due to the change in what aspirin is made from, which for the past few years has been coal tar.

  13. Merch may be too BIG to prosecute or actually too wealthy with all the money it is contributing to decision makers in our government. HOWEVER, our government bureaucrats that are in bed with pharmaceutical cartel is trying to beat a old horse into the ground persecuting Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski only because his statistics on curing brain cancer in our children are far more successful than what current standard of care offers. Again, the all might greed of money is making decisions that are not really in consumers corner.

  14. I am horrified by the information above. Our country is as immoral as any, yet we pretend to defend others from the very things we commit ourselves. When will we wake up? God bless the protesters who aren’t going to take it any more.

  15. Merck may seem too big to prosecute but when you select individuals of the corporation to prosecute not only is it doable it is exhilarating! Putting the face of their executives in the media for people to see has a way better chance of being effective. They can’t hide behind a company name. I’d like to see the same idea used on people in the FDA who vote poisons into our food & water supply, for congress who think more of their stock portfolios than the voice of the people. Please. Put a face to the real criminals of this country.

  16. This goes to show that money rules Congresses’ decision, It has nothing to do with legality,or fairness to their constituents. Congress isn’t worried about the people, just as long as they can stuff their pockets . The honorable politicians who drafted the Constitution certainly didn’t have this in mind. It took contemporary congress to create all these self enrichment acts.

  17. prosecute just one of these murders, thats what they are and the rest will think deeply before they chose profits mover peoples lives

  18. Donations of any company to Senators, Representatives, Presedential candidates, FDA should be made illigal.

  19. I am shouting this: Wake up People!!! Our own government won’t help us! As a matter of fact, they are the culprits.

    The majority of people from all sides of the political spectrum and degrees of fervor or ignorance as the case maybe, believe we have gridlock in government.
    It is in our enlightened self-interest to change. Changing a few politicians here and there or winning
    on some minor environmental issue does no get us objective representation/management. The “powers that be” first control 80% of what is legislated, second then if it does not go exactly their way how it is enforced by the government bureaucracy and third how the law is adjudicated,
    they can afford to “tie it up” in the courts and fourth by propaganda.
    Production is in the system. We need to change, to tweak, the system to ONE 6 YEAR TERM LIMITS for all of our elected representatives.

  21. What is wrong with you people. This has been well known since Samuel Butler wrote ‘War is just a Racket.” back in the 20’s.

  22. I find it amazing that “We the People” have allowed it to get this far. But, the politicians that we elect are a bunch meek pansies that don’t have the guts to say enough is enough. And, our media is just as guilty. They are a bunch of puppets too. In the past week, I have seen 4 or 5 pieces that say don’t take supplements, it’s not approved by the FDA, etc. Can you say Propaganda???? It’s about time that we took our country back and stop voting these people into office again and again. Let them know they will no longer be CAREER politicians and they will actually have to go back to work after their term like our forefathers did. It was never meant to be this way. Let the Pharmas and FDA know that we are on to them and we won’t take it any longer.
    We the People can no longer have the attitude “There’s nothing I can do, I’m 1 person”.
    Each voice is a weapon and when you get 20,000 singular voices that makes a statement.

  23. Be Aware that the Vioxx type drugs are promoted Heavily by VETS, names like Rimadyl/ carprofen,deramaxx are some I know of. kidney liver and pancreas failure rather soon for some poor older pets, thos who need a SAFE arthritis use fish oils or CARTROPHEN injections far safer.

  24. THE FDA is a bunch of Fools. They would rather you take a toxic pharmaceutical drug and line their pockets with donations, and money from big pharma then help The General public. The FDA needs to be removed from our system ASAP!

  25. I can’t help but notice the way other countries have revolutions when they don’t like what the government is doing, or trying to oust a leader who has outstayed his welcome, or is a profiteer or a dictator. Will our country stage an all-out war against the FDA, Big Pharma and the government that allows them to get rich on the general population’s misery? I don’t believe in violence, but we have to do something to stop this racketeering with our health and well being. Supposedly there are laws to protect society, so why are they not put into effect against this travesty of killing people under the guise of curing them? As far as I’m concerned, all drugs are poison. Some kill rapidly and others more slowly. Millions of innocent people think they are being helped. But they might as well be ingesting arsenic with all the damage to their bodies that so-called medication is causing.

  26. The way out of this conundrum is staying or becoming HEALTHY! That starts with eating REAL AND ORGANIC FOOD. Its the way to stay out of Big Pharma’s clutches. Let’s turn ‘Too Big to Prosecute’ into insignificant and puny!!

  27. The CEOs of corportations have created a win-win for themselves by getting the idiots on the supreme court (and Mitt Rommny) to declare them people. On the one hand these individuals can not be sued because the legal entity of the corporation is responsible for any questionable activities and not the individuals who work for the corporation, and on the other hand the corporation which is nothing more than a state charted legal entity can now give unlimited amouts of money to buy off our elections and have laws passed in their favor because they are now consiedered people.
    Therefore, we the people must do everything we possibly can to get these laws changed.. Suppport groups like Move to Amend and any other group working to undermine the power of corporations Including groups who are trying to get judges appointed whowill favor human rights over corporate rights.
    As someone mentioned, no who has ever worked for Big Pharma or plans to work for them in the near future should be allowed to work at the FDA and the same should be true of all other government entities. Any entity that does regulation should never be allowed to hire people from the corporations or industry it regulates.

  28. I am a victim of Merck. I used PROPECIA for about 2 months. Prior to using it, I was in 100% health. During my use, I developed mental, physical and sexual side effects, and have become impotent, which appears to be permanent even though I try using drugs like cialis etc. Check out for a better understanding.
    I am 25 and my life has been destroyed by Merck. I pray to god there is a special place in hell for the scum bags who have ruined so many lives, mine included.

  29. The only thing that will stop corporate criminality is to throw those who run them in jail for life, strip them of all wealth and impoverish their families.
    Corporations should not be allowed to exist. Those who run businesses are responsible for the harm they do to other people, and in this country, those who run corporations never go to jail. They have bought off all government officials and know that they can get away with anything.

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