NuvaRing linked to BLOOD CLOTS and DEATH
On Sept. 30, 2004, Merck & Co. pulled its blockbuster painkiller Vioxx from the market after studies concluded it doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes when used long-term. At the time of this major Vioxx recall, an estimated two million people were taking this drug for the relief of chronic pain associated with arthritis, menstrual cramps and other pain conditions. According to Dr. David Graham, an associate director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, Vioxx is responsible for more than 55,000 deaths and 160,000 heart attacks.
Vioxx is a COX-2 selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). This class of drugs, which also includes Celebrex and Bextra, was developed in the 1990s with the goal of providing powerful pain relief without the side effects associated with traditional NSAIDs. Popular NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen have long been associated with gastrointestinal side effects like ulcers and stomach bleeding. COX-2 drugs were aggressively marketed as providing unparalleled pain relief without the side effects.
In the first major Vioxx study, conducted in 2001, researchers compared the effects of Vioxx and the non-selective NSAID naproxen. After nine months of study, the group taking Vioxx had a slightly lower incidence of gastrointestinal side effects. However, the rates of cardiovascular side effects– including strokes and heart attack—were fourfold for patients taking Vioxx compared to those in the naproxen group.
Despite this apparent Vioxx danger, Merck insisted that Vioxx did not pose cardiovascular risks. The company even argued, without any supporting evidence, that naproxen actually protected against cardiovascular risks. Merck neglected to conduct further studies to determine Vioxx cardiovascular risks. Both Merck and the FDA insisted risks were minimal and inconclusive.
The next Vioxx clinical trial was not conducted until 2003. In this Vioxx study, researchers found that those taking Vioxx for eighteen months or longer were at twice the risk of suffering from heart attack or stroke compared to those taking a placebo. The results of this study finally prompted Merck to pull this dangerous drug off the market.
Since the Vioxx recall, approximately 7,000 former Vioxx users and surviving family members have filed lawsuits against Merck, blaming the drug for deaths and other side effects. These injured consumers accuse the company of withholding serious safety concerns while continuing to aggressively promote Vioxx.
In the first Vioxx lawsuit to go to trial, a Texas jury awarded the family of a 59-year-old man $253 million in damages. In the second state-level Vioxx trial, A New Jersey jury found Merck was not liable for a Vioxx user’s death. In the first case to reach federal trial, the District Judge declared a mistrial due to a hung jury. Analysts estimate that Merck’s total Vioxx liability will reach somewhere between $4 billion and $25 billion. To learn more about Vioxx, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney who can evaluate your case to ensure your legal interested are protected.