Vioxx Drug Side Effects and Lawsuits

A recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association has linked the popular and heavily marketed arthritis drug, Vioxx, to dangerous blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.

Legal action against the drug's manufacturer, Merck is imminent. The recent Vioxx study brings to light questions as to when Merck was first aware that fatal side effects were associated with Vioxx, and whether it failed to timely inform public health authorities of these side effects. Additionally the heavy marketing campaign may have resulted in over prescription of the drug and led many people to use it without understanding its dangers. Therefore legal action may be filed against Merck for failure to warn, negligence and wrongful death.

Additional Dangers

There are other serious side effects associated with Vioxx. These include: stomach and intestinal bleeding. These conditions may come about suddenly with few or no symptoms. If left untreated these stomach problems can lead to hospitalization or death. Vioxx has also been linked to allergic reactions including swelling of face, lips, tongue, and throat which can cause difficulty breathing and/or swallowing. Serious kidney problems can occur, though rare, they can include acute kidney failure. Symptoms of liver problems include nausea, tiredness, itching, tenderness in the right upper abdomen, and flu-like symptoms.

Studies

Vioxx represents a new generation of arthritis drug known as COX 2 inhibitors. Celebrex (celecoxib) is another COX 2 inhibitor.

The risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, stroke, sudden death and blood clots, is believed by researchers to be more than two times higher in people who used Vioxx (rofecoxib group drugs) than in the traditional, arthritis pain treatment nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which are part of the naproxen group. This was concluded by a study that involved 8,000 patients and compared the COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib (Vioxx) with the traditional NSAID naproxen.

An additional study found the annual rates of heart attack in Vioxx (rofecoxib) among 48,000 patients was higher than the regular population. In those studies, 0.52% of patients taking an inactive placebo pill had a heart attack each year, while the annual rate of heart attack was 0.74% for patients taking Vioxx-type drugs (rofecoxib group drugs)

The researchers concluded that until more is known, doctors should use caution in prescribing Vioxx to patients with potential heart problems.

Legal Action

The Vioxx study has led to questions as to when Merck was first aware that potentially fatal side effects were associated with Vioxx and whether it failed to timely inform public health authorities of these side effects.

One of the principal allegations in any likely lawsuit would be whether any clinical evidence or reports from physicians of serious side effects of Vioxx was withheld.

Additionally, Merck has extensively marketed Vioxx as safe and highly effective, while minimizing its risks compared to the other arthritis pain treatment drugs on the market.

In general, the types of damages sought against Merck may include general and compensatory damages for: past and future physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and physical impairment; past and future medical, incidental and hospital expenses; and past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity.

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