Montana Vioxx Lawyer

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Arthritis can be a debilitating condition. It affects people's joints and their movement, breaking down the cartilage around bones in joints. When cartilage is broken down, bones can rub against each other, creating stiffness, pain, and difficulty moving.

Osteoarthritis affects the largest percentage of people with an arthritis condition; it affects nearly 27 million Americans. This type of arthritis typically affects only certain joints, such as hips, hands, knees, the lower back, and the neck. When people have arthritis, it can significantly impact the activities they are able to do, from routine tasks, to work, and more, as well as their quality of life.

Many pharmaceutical manufacturers have sought to develop medications to treat arthritis. In 1999, Merck & Co., Inc. released a medication that was found to be very effective in reducing the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved the release of Vioxx to treat menstrual cramps, signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and acute pain in adults. Vioxx was a drug that was listed as a COX-2 inhibitor, and was categorized as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Ibuprofen is a common drug that is also classed as an NSAID.

Common side effects and risks typically associated with NSAIDs have been the development of stomach ulcers and bleeding in patients taking them. These side effects can be serious, especially if not treated. The benefit of Vioxx, which Merck widely advertised and marketed, was that it did not cause stomach ulcers and bleeding.

However, while Vioxx was not linked to stomach ulcers and bleeding, there were very serious side effects and risks discovered in association with Vioxx. In post-release clinical trials of Vioxx it was discovered that the drug presented an increased risk of serious cardiovascular complications, including heart attacks and strokes. Although there were reports of this discovery being made as early as 2000, it was not until 2004 that the Merck company issued a voluntary worldwide recall of Vioxx.

How could this happen?
To release a medication for distribution and use, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company must perform a wide range of tests on the medicine before release. Tests are done and clinical trials are run to discover the potential side effects of the drug, as well as to measure the benefits of the drug. The FDA holds manufacturers to high standards. Unfortunately, all potential side effects and issues associated with a medication may not arise during the mandatory testing phases and clinical trials. There are times when, post-release of a drug, adverse and potentially serious affects arise. These may occur during follow-up clinical trials, or as the result of patients becoming seriously ill, or even dying, as the result of a medication. In such instances, the pharmaceutical company and the FDA will typically review the causes and conditions, potentially recalling the drug.

This is what happened in 2004 with the Merck company. Prior to the release of Vioxx, the clinical trials of the drug did not show side effects associated with cardiovascular complications, including heart attacks and strokes. However, upon release of the drug, wide distribution, and follow-up clinical trials, the company discovered that there was indeed a link between Vioxx and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in patients taking the medication, at which point Merck issued the recall of the drug.

What to do if you were affected by Vioxx
If you were prescribed Vioxx to treat your arthritis, or another condition for which Vioxx was approved, and you experienced a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular complication as the result, you may be entitled to compensation. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, even after a drug has been approved by the FDA, are liable for damages suffered as a result of their drugs.

A lawyer who is based in Montana and is familiar with pharmaceutical litigation, personal injury claims, or wrongful death lawsuits will be able to assist you. He or she will guide you through the legal process and determine if you have a viable claim. In the event that you do, your attorney will help you pursue compensation and restitution from Merck.