"Cheating Medicaid out of millions..."
Merck recently agreed to pay $650 million to settle charges that it overbilled the government for drugs such as Vioxx and Zocor.
Prosecutors say the drugmaker gave pills to hospitals at virtually no cost to hook poor patients on expensive medicine. When the patients left the hospital, they often continued taking the drugs, but with the government footing the higher bill.
The Merck settlement culminates an investigation that began in 2000 and is one of the first in a series of cases centering on whether drugmakers used unfair pricing practices to bilk the government. The Justice Department is looking into 630 health-care whistleblower claims.
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