Research shows the anti-inflammatory drug rofecoxib—formerly sold under the brand name Vioxx—causes heart-related side effects.
What Is Vioxx and What Was It Prescribed For?
Vioxx was the brand name for the drug rofecoxib, which American pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co, Inc. designed and manufactured until 2004. Doctors prescribed Vioxx to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis for patients aged two and up who at least weighed 22 lbs. (10 kg), acute pain, dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain), and migraine headaches in adults. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Vioxx in 1999, and Merck sold it in the form of oral tablets and an oral suspension. Due to concerns about side effects, Merck withdrew the product from store shelves in 2004.
A member of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) class, scientists believe Vioxx works by inhibiting the enzyme “cyclooxygenase-2” (COX-2), which helps create the lipid (fat cell) “prostaglandin.” This lipid regulates pain sensation in people’s bodies. By reducing its presence, people feel less pain from various symptoms.
In September 2004, the FDA issued a public health advisory stating that Merck announced it had voluntarily withdrawn Vioxx from store shelves due to safety concerns. Merck explained that the Data Safety Monitoring Board of a long-term Vioxx study called “APPROVe” halted the study because it found “an increased risk of cardiovascular events (including heart attack and stroke) in patients on Vioxx compared to the placebo, particularly those who had been taking the drug for 18 months.”
Subsequently, thousands of people have filed Vioxx lawsuits against Merck, alleging that it sold a defective drug. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) assigned all federal level Vioxx lawsuits to U.S. District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. More than 1,000 Vioxx lawsuits (PDF) are still pending in that MDL, though Merck agreed to settle with 50,000 people worldwide, some of them non-litigants, for around $4.85 billion. In Canada, Merck settled roughly 1,300 Vioxx claims between $21.8 million (CN) and $36.9 million (CN).
In November 2011, Merck and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a Vioxx settlement totaling $950 million due to the manufacturer’s off-label marketing of Vioxx. The civil portion of the fine will be divided between the U.S. government and state governments that also participated in the lawsuit.
Vioxx Might Cause Heart Attack and Stroke Side Effects
Due to concerns about COX-2 NSAIDs, the FDA studied the relationship between Vioxx and heart-related side effects and strokes. It found that Vioxx increased the risk of serious coronary heart disease by 3.7 times at high doses and 1.5 times greater at standard doses compared to another COX-2 NSAID, celecoxib (Celebrex). In the February 2005 issue of the medical journal, The Lancet, researchers determined that Vioxx caused between 88,000 and 140,000 excess cases of serious coronary heart disease in the United States alone.
RLG’s Vioxx Lawyers Will Make Things Easier
The process of demanding compensation for the harm you’ve suffered can be complicated, even if it doesn’t seem fair that you should have to go through even more trouble to be made whole again. The Vioxx lawyers at the Rottenstein Law Group believe that obtaining legal satisfaction from those who harmed you shouldn’t require more hardship. That’s why we do everything we can to streamline the process, and we will file a Vioxx lawsuit on your behalf if necessary. RLG will also keep you up to date on any Vioxx updates and FDA Vioxx announcements. If you have taken Vioxx and believe it harmed you, contact RLG today.