Short-Term Use, Long-Term Risks for Vioxx Patients

This fall, it will be two seemingly short years since Merck pulled its heart-stopping drug Vioxx at a cost of $30 billion. Of course, that may be a drop in the bucket, compared to the final number after all the judgments from all those lawsuits clogging up the U.S. court system are counted.

More evidence Merck was well aware how lethal Vioxx really was: An unpublished APPROVe study that led the New Jersey drugmaker to pull the COX-2 inhibitor elevated a patient's risk for stroke and heart attack much sooner -- four to six months after starting to take it.

What's more, Vioxx patients participating in the earlier study, according to two charts and a specific paragraph in the document, experienced a far greater risk of heart attack or stroke -- 60 percent -- over the first six months. And, according to medical experts, those very same risks remained for at least a year after a patient stopped taking the drug.

In fact, one Wake Forest University professor believes the health of former Vioxx patients might be at risk for their rest of their lives. Considering 20 million Americans took Vioxx until it was pulled, who really knows how many American lives will be affected?

MSNBC May 18, 2006

National Public Radio May 18, 2006 Free Audio Report

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