Vioxx And Heart Attacks / Strokes

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The Merck pharmaceutical company developed Vioxx, generic name rofecoxib, in 1999. It was a NSAID, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and its purpose was to treat discomfort resulting from arthritis, menstrual cramps, and other acute adult pain. The drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was instantly a huge success, both financially and in the medical community.

Eventually, Vioxx was prescribed to nearly 80 million people in dozens of countries. Physicians liked it because patients indicated that it worked effectively without producing a lot of additional side effects. Previously, similar drugs had been known to harm the lining of the stomach in the process of combating whatever pain they were intended to deal with. Two enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2, are at fault, and most NSAIDs are designed to block them both, even though COX-1 is beneficial. Vioxx was designed so that it would only target the pain-causing COX-2 enzyme.

Most patients, as expected, reported very few troubles concerning the stomach, making Vioxx better than most other NSAIDs. Unfortunately, cause for concern soon emerged that Vioxx might have worse side effects than ever expected, including increased risks of heart attacks and strokes. This was more likely to occur in people over the age of 65 and those who took the drug for longer than 18 months. Before Vioxx was put on the market, the testing of the drug only ran for 6 to 12 months. No one knew for sure what impact it would have long-term. However, some have alleged that Merck & Co., the drug's maker, deliberately withheld information that could have prevented thousands of fatalities.

The link between Vioxx and heart conditions is not entirely understood. The prevailing theory is that while COX-2 is generally bad it causes pain and inflammation it is also comprised of agents that prevent the blood from clotting. Vioxx, therefore, in attacking COX-2 enzymes, may have also caused blood clots. However, Merck disputes this theory, saying that when the drug was tested on animals, it did not have that effect. However, it is the lack of a placebo group during clinical studies that contributed to medical misconceptions about the drug. By not studying a placebo group, they did not have sufficient comparable data. To this day, representatives of Merck denies these allegations.

In 2004, the FDA stated that Vioxx had caused at least 100,000 heart attacks, and it was estimated that about 30 percent of these incidents ended in fatalities. It was after this report was released that Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market. At the time, Merck was generating more than $2 billion dollars annually from Vioxx sales, making it one of the most significant drug recalls in history.

Obviously, if you suffered a heart attack or stroke while taking Vioxx, there is a strong chance that the drug was at fault. If a family member died from a heart attack or stroke and had been taking Vioxx, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.

Of course, there is also a chance that Vioxx damaged your heart, and you do not even know it yet. Many people who took Vioxx are now at greater risk for heart attacks and strokes than they were before. This may be enough evidence needed to file a personal injury claim.

If you think you might have a case against Merck, there a few things that you should do. First, you should speak with a lawyer to weigh your options. Find a lawyer who has experience with these kinds of cases, and talk about whether your situation warrants a lawsuit. You must also consider time restraints when filing a claim. While you want to locate a qualified attorney, you also want to avoid wasting time unnecessarily. Statutes of limitations laws enforce strict guidelines concerning when personal injury and product liability claims can be filed. While these laws are intended to protect companies from unlawful lawsuits, they should not prevent you from seeking the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, lost wages, and doctor's bills. An attorney can provide you with the resources you need to build your case.