Painkiller Vioxx® Pulled from Market Alert

Sept 30, 2004 -- Merck & Co announced today that it was pulling its popular arthritis and pain drug Vioxx (rofecoxib) from the worldwide market after a clinical trial showed that the drug carried an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.

The increased cardiovascular risk was discovered during a trial to evaluate the effect of Vioxx in preventing recurrence of colorectal polyps. After 18 months of treatment, the patients taking Vioxx were found to be at greater risk for heart attack and stroke compared with those taking a placebo. The trial is being stopped.

Vioxx is a COX-2 selective nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID). Other COX-2 selective NSAIDs on the market at this time are Celebrex (celecoxib) and Bextra (valdecoxib) NOTE: April 7, 2005, Pfizer agreed to suspend sales and marketing of Bextra in the U.S., pending further discussions with the with the FDA. For more information, please read the FDA press release. . Vioxx is also related to the nonselective NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

Comment: The FDA today stated: "The risk that an individual patient will suffer a heart attack or stroke related to Vioxx is very small. We encourage people taking Vioxx to contact their physician to discuss discontinuing use of Vioxx and alternative treatments. Any decision about which drug product to take to treat your symptoms should be made in consultation with your physician based on an assessment of your specific treatment needs."