Saturday, November 26, 2011

If Corporations are People Why Isn’t Merck Going to Jail?

Why Isn’t Anyone Going to Jail?

Several months ago Mitt Romney became agitated when someone in the audience questioned him on business and he said that corporations are people.  Of course, he was probably following what a conservative block of the Supreme Court has indicated, as it has given corporations the rights that are enumerated in the Bill of Rights and other parts of the Constitution.

Merck is a pharmaceutical company that has just agreed to pay $950 million in total, including criminal penalties and plead guilty to a misdemeanor in connection with the drug Vioxx.

Merck agreed to pay a $321 million criminal fine and plead guilty to one misdemeanor count of illegally introducing a drug into interstate commerce, the Justice Department said in a news release. The charge arose from Merck’s promotion of Vioxx to treat rheumatoid arthritis before the Food and Drug Administration approved it for that purpose in 2002.

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 illegal marketing caused doctors to prescribe and bill the government for Vioxx they otherwise would not have prescribed.

But wait a minute, how does a Corporation plead guilty to a crime and not go to jail if it is a person.  People who commit crimes go to jail.  Ergo, the corporation is not a person.

In fact, no one is going to jail.

No person was held liable for Merck’s conduct. “It’s just a cost of doing business until a pharmaceutical executive does a perp walk,” said Erik Gordon, a pharmaceutical analyst and clinical assistant professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Yep, Merck the corporation committed its crime all by itself, no humans involved. 

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