Vioxx And Your Legal Opions

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When Vioxx was put on the market in 1999, it was viewed as something of a medical marvel. It was a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) proven to be a highly effective medication. Other NSAIDs at that time tended to cause a lot of damage to the stomach lining over time, in addition to fighting arthritis and menstrual pain, which were their intended purposes. Aspirin and ibuprofen, the most common NSAIDs, can certainly harm the stomach, but Vioxx didn't show the same characteristics. It was carefully crafted to target only the pain-causing enzymes. What people were unaware of at the time, however, was that Vioxx had a worse side effect than stomach ulcers. It could weaken the cardiovascular system and lead to blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. Some individuals even suffered from liver and kidney diseases and complete organ failure as a result of taking Vioxx.

Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical company that developed and sold the drug, took it off the market voluntarily in 2004. But by then, much of the damage was done, at least as far as the public was concerned. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had estimated that at least 80,000 stroke cases, and as many as 130,000 heart attack cases had already been linked to Vioxx. Approximately 30 percent of these incidents were fatal.

When complications began to grow in numbers, so did concerns over the drug's safety. The FDA soon contacted Merck requesting that modifications be made to warning labels on the drug's packaging materials. Merck acquiesced to this request, but warning labels proved to be ineffective for preventing fatalities. The FDA decided to meet with Merck representatives to evaluate data from clinical studies. Questions were raised pertaining to dosage requirements, consistency of results, and scientific methods used during the study. Apparently, when conducting their research, Merck had neglected to use a placebo group, which is necessary when determining the exact nature of a drug when compared to others like it. In addition, presenters had not indicated the dangers of high doses on the box. While some results indicated high rates of cardiovascular disease among patients using Vioxx, others had opposite results. This inconsistency was puzzling to the FDA. As a result, the FDA began monitoring all studies and clinical trials of Vioxx, and Merck was required to submit all findings to the FDA directly. It was not long before the company voluntarily withdrew Vioxx from the market in 2004. Skeptics believe that the company was fully aware of the drug's potential hazards well before investigations occurred.

Merck faced destructive consequences as a result of their attempts to deceive the public. It is reported that the company spend nearly $4.85 billion dollars in settlements for personal injury, product liability, and fraudulence claims filed against them by 2007. Thousands more are still pending today. More importantly, these lawsuits sent a message to other pharmaceutical companies, urging them to utilize more cautious methods when analyzing new prescription medications. The federal government has taken initiatives to improve the quality and control of freely marketed drugs. Since the FDA relied on Merck's data without conducting their own studies at length, many people hold them partially responsible for losses and injuries associated with the drug.

If you or a loved one has suffered from the adverse effects of this drug, or if you have had to cope with an unexpected loss of a loved one, contact an attorney to guide you through the litigation processes. You may be able to receive compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and additional medicines. Although financial compensation cannot reverse the damage or the loss of a family member, it allows you to gain the upper hand against pharmaceutical giants. Time is an issue, however, so file your claim sooner, rather than later. At most, you may have four years to file a personal injury or liability claim, but statute of limitations laws vary by state. Some are as short as two years, which does not leave you with a lot of time to build your case. Be sure to locate an attorney with experience handling pharmaceutical claims, so that legal suits can be filed in a timely manner.