Wyoming Vioxx Lawyer

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In the four and a half years that it was on the market, over 80 million people took Vioxx (rofecoxib) worldwide. It was a new wonder drug for arthritis, the first of a whole new class of drugs: the COX-2 inhibitors. They were supposed to be better than other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs because they didn't inhibit COX-1 receptors, which meant they weren't supposed to cause ulcers and stomach upset. This occurs because COX-2 is responsible for controlling the synthesis of molecules that result in inflammation and pain. COX-1, however, is responsible for controlling the synthesis of the molecules that protect the stomach lining.

Vioxx was foretasted to perform extremely well in the market. It lived up to expectations, and helped relieve the pain and stiffness of arthritis for millions people. Unfortunately, however, it also caused heart attacks and strokes in some people. It's estimated that Vioxx caused somewhere between 88,000 and 139,000 heart attacks in Americans who took it, and that 30 to 40 percent of those were probably fatal. Vioxx also seems to have caused heart rhythm problems and, like all other anti-inflammatory medications, kidney problems.

The FDA approved Vioxx after an expedited review; it was such a promising drug that it was rushed through the approval process. Some people have questioned the wisdom of that decision, and believe that if the FDA had taken more time to review the research on Vioxx, it would never have been approved and sold.

However, Vioxx was approved in 1999, and Merck aggressively marketed the new drug to patients and physicians. Due to this this aggressive marketing strategy and since the drug was so effective in treating arthritis Vioxx became one of the biggest commercial successes in the pharmaceutical business, netting Merck $2.5 billion in sales in one year alone.

Meanwhile, Merck and several independent researchers continued to do research on Vioxx, hoping it could be prescribed for problems other than arthritis and dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), which were the conditions it was approved for. During one study entitled VIGOR (Vioxx GI Outcomes Research), researchers noted that people who had heart disease and received Vioxx had more heart attacks than people who did not take Vioxx. In response, Merck added safety labeling to Vioxx, warning that it should be used with caution in people with heart problems.

In 2004, another study named APPROVe (Adenomatous Polyp PRevention On Vioxx ), showed that Vioxx increased the risk of heart attack in previously healthy people, too. When that became apparent, Merck voluntarily recalled the drug and has not put it back on the market since.

In December 2005, an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine accused Merck of withholding data from the earlier VIGOR study about heart attacks and strokes. They said Merck knew about the problems with Vioxx and that they manipulated the data to make it appear safer than it actually was. At about the same time, an FDA researcher named David Graham said that his research showed that Vioxx caused heart problems, and that the FDA suppressed it.

Whether Merck manipulated the data or the FDA suppressed research, the bottom line is that people were harmed by their actions. People took Vioxx believing it was a safe drug, and some of them had heart attacks, strokes, heart rhythm problems, and kidney problems. Still, others lost their lives to the drug.

If you are a resident of Wyoming, talking to a Wyoming-based lawyer that specializes in personal injury and medicine might help if you or someone you know was harmed by Vioxx. The lawyer will know when and how to file suit, and can help you get compensation if you are entitled to it.