No Cardiovascular Studies Done on Vioxx Before Launching It

Last month, a document mistakenly included by Merck in the evidence gathering process revealed the mega-drugmaker had considered reformulating Vioxx in 2000 to reduce its cardiovascular side effects. That sounded very surprising -- and didn't make a lot of sense either -- until yesterday's revelation at the first of many Vioxx trials in Angleton, Texas: Merck conducted no studies on Vioxx's possible cardiovascular side effects prior to launching it in 1999.

According to the head of Merck's epidemiology department, nothing in the company's database six years ago would've warned them about any cardiovascular problems with Vioxx. And, Merck officials claimed the disparity between naproxen and Vioxx in a 2000 study had to do with naproxen's so-called "heart-healthy" qualities (although recent label changes proposed by the FDA claim otherwise).

No wonder Merck officials turned a blind eye to any problems associated with Vioxx: The COX-2 inhibitor accounted for 10 cents out of every dollar in Merck's overall sales in 2002, amounting to $2.5 billion.

Just as a reminder, folks, this is just the first of more than 4,000 lawsuits being tried in state and federal courts. Expect more bombshells in the weeks to come...

In the meantime, if you're still using a potentially toxic drug to tame your pain, I strongly urge you to review one of the more popular articles I've written this year about seven natural and safer treatments for your pain you can use without risking your heart in the process.

USA Today July 21, 2005

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