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Stroke Of Luck Reveals More Vioxx Coverups

Just when I thought I couldn't be any more surprised about Merck's blatant mishandling of Vioxx, a company memo revealed the mega-drugmaker had considered reformulating it in 2000 -- just a year after I first warned you about it on my Web site -- reduce its cardiovascular side effects.

While Merck was defending the first of many negative studies about the toxic effects of Vioxx -- patients were five times likely to have heart attacks than those using naproxen -- company scientists had considered combining the toxic drug with another agent to reduce those risks.

In that memo between researchers and Merck's patent department, it was admitted the way Vioxx reduce a patient's pain could also increase the risk for cardiovascular problems and that a patent be found to diminish those side effects.

The cardiovascular risk inherent in Vioxx, according to the memo, could stems from a reduction of prostacyclin which prevents platelet aggregation. In addition, that mechanism could alter the ratio of prostacyclin to thromboxane, a substance that can constrict blood vessels and cause clotting, causing increased risk of cardiac and cerebral adverse events, the document said.

It was a stroke of luck such evidence came to light, considering the Merck memo was mistakenly provided by the company to plaintiff lawyers as part of the evidence-gathering process in one of the hundreds of Vioxx lawsuits around the country.

All these shenanigans -- that have risked the health of countless Americans and fattened the pocketbooks of the mega-drug company cartel -- give me another chance to remind you about healthier and far less toxic ways to treat your pain:

San Francisco Chronicle June 23, 2005

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