Merck Serono has settled a lawsuit in the US in which the company was alleged to have illegally paid doctors to prescribe and promote multiple sclerosis drug Rebif.

Under the terms of the settlement, the company will pay $44.3m to the US government.

A regional business director of the company blew the whistle on the alleged payments, often made through a New York-based multiple sclerosis clinic, and said that the payments totalled in excess of $300,000.

The US Justice Department said the company paid doctors for speaker training meetings and programmes to promote the drug, but did not notify the government of the payments.

According to CBS News , a Merck Serono spokesman confirmed the settlement but stated that the company is not admitting to any wrongdoing.