Vioxx Heart Attacks, Vioxx Blood Clots
Patients taking Vioxx have been shown to exhibit a much higher incidence of severe cardiovascular side effects, including heart attack, blood clots and stroke, as compared to patients not taking Vioxx.
Unfortunately, it has become common for drug manufacturers to conduct studies of the medications they make. Many of the Vioxx researchers were consultants or investigators for Merck or other pharmaceutical companies that manufacture Vioxx and other COX-2 drugs. That is why over the years, it has been a challenge to obtain objective data about adverse cardiovascular effects of Vioxx.
In the press release informing the Vioxx patients about the drug withdrawal, Raymond V. Gilmartin, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Merck, assured the public that Merck was "taking this action because we believe it best serves the interests of patients." However, new disclosures suggest that the maker of Vioxx may have done just the opposite: The company was fully aware of the potential life threatening cardiovascular side effects as early as 2000*, but continued to market and sell the drug as safe.
Merck continued to confirm "favorable cardiovascular safety profile of Vioxx." In 2003, worldwide sales of Vioxx were a staggering $2.5 billion. While chasing big bucks, Merck may have chosen to overlook the harmful side effects. The result is estimated 100,000 hospitalizations, more than 27,000 heart attacks and strokes, and potentially 10,000 to 15,000 deaths among those who took Vioxx.
* In 2000, Vioxx Gastrointestinal Outcomes Research (VIGOR) noted a five-fold risk of severe cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, in those taking Vioxx vs. a traditional pain reliever.
A recent study by Dr. Muhammed Mamdani, a clinical pharmacologist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, Canada, found that cardiovascular side effects of Vioxx were more severe than those of other pain relievers.
The study involved over 130,00 elderly patients taking three different pain medications: 14,500 were taking the COX-2 inhibitor Vioxx, 19,000 participants were using COX-2 inhibitor Celebrex, while 5,400 people took a traditional, non-selective pain reliever. (The patients participating in the study had all been taking Vioxx for less than a year on average.) The research data was compared to the records of 100,000 randomly selected participants who did not take any painkillers.
The Mamdani study demonstrated that elderly patients taking Vioxx had an 80% increase in hospital admissions due to heart failure and other cardiac problems. (Patients taking Celebrex showed similar rate of hospitalization as patients in the group of participants who did not take any of the pain relievers.)
Funding for this study was provided by the Canadian Government, not a drug maker.
The adverse cardiovascular side effects of Vioxx were known well before 2004. In 2001, Drs. Debabrata Mukherjee and his associates from the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center conducted a study "to define the cardiovascular effects of COX-2 inhibitors when used for arthritis and musculoskeletal pain in patients without coronary artery disease."
The researchers analyzed the results of two major post-market studies of Vioxx (VIGOR), Celebrex (CLASS) and other research data published between 1998 and 2001.
VIGOR (Vioxx Gastrointestinal Outcomes Research), which tested 8076 patients, was designed to evaluate gastrointestinal side effects of rofecoxib (Vioxx) vs. naproxen (Aleve). CLASS (Celecoxib Long-term Arthritis Safety Study) engaged 8059 patients and evaluated gastrointestinal events in those taking celecoxib (Celebrex) vs. ibuprofen (Advil) vs. no pain reliever at all. The cardiovascular side effects seen in the Vioxx and Celebrex studies were then compared to the analysis of two small studies, in which patients used aspirin vs. placebo for prevention of cardiovascular events (the US Physicians Health Study and the UK Doctors Study).
The Mukherjee study found that the annualized cardiovascular event rates in patients taking COX-2 inhibitors in both VIGOR and CLASS studies were significantly higher than in the patients taking a placebo. Research results were published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2001.
Merck continued to market and sell Vioxx as safe until September 2004. As a result, many Vioxx patients have suffered considerable heart damage, and possibly death.
If you or someone you know was taking Vioxx and has suffered from a heart attack, blood clots (thrombosis) or stroke, it is possible that these side effects may have been caused by Vioxx use.
To determine whether you have a legitimate case concerning Vioxx, contact a Vioxx personal injury lawyer. He or she can help decide whether you need to file a Vioxx lawsuit or seek other compensation for injury from Vioxx. any of the most experienced personal injury attorneys have working relationships with legal professionals who specialize in other areas of law to provide their clients with effective representation in a variety of complex situations. For example, many injury lawyers can recommend colleagues who offer help for individuals in need of a car accident lawyer and/or DUI attorney, family law specialist and/or divorce attorney.