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Vioxx® (rofecoxib)

Vioxx (rofecoxib) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used to treat chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Prostaglandins are chemicals that promote inflammation and pain. Manufactured by Merck & Co., Vioxx acts to block the enzyme that makes prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase- 2) and thereby reduces inflammation and accompanying pain, fever, swelling and tenderness.

NEWS UPDATE: 11/9/2007
TRENTON, N.J. – Merck & Co. issued a statement Friday it will pay $4.85 billion to end thousands of state and federal lawsuits over its painkiller Vioxx in one of the largest drug settlements ever.

Merck has estimated that the deal, if it’s accepted, would end 45,000 to 50,000 personal injury lawsuits of U.S. Vioxx users who suffered or were injured via heart attack or ischemic stroke.

To qualify for a settlement, plaintiffs must have filed claims by Thursday (11/8/2007) and must meet several criteria, including medical proof that they suffered a heart attack or stroke, that they received at least 30 Vioxx pills.


Why is Vioxx prescribed?

Vioxx is prescribed for the treatment of pain, swelling, and tenderness caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in adults. Vioxx is also used to treat acute pain such as headache and menstrual cramps.

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What are the FDA approved uses for Vioxx?

Vioxx was approved by the FDA in 1999 as a selective cox-2 inhibitor used to treat pain associated with arthritis.

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What are the side effects of Vioxx?

The most common side effects associated with Vioxx are headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and heartburn, and water retention. Other side effects include insomnia, urinary retention, heart failure, aggravation of hypertension, chest pain, ringing in the ears, stomach and intestinal ulcers, bleeding, blurred vision, anxiety, weight gain, flu-like symptoms, drowsiness and weakness.

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Vioxx warnings and alerts

On September 30, 2004, the FDA acknowledged the voluntary withdrawal of Vioxx by Merck & Co. The FDA also issued a Public Health Advisory to inform patients of this action and to advise them to consult with a physician about alternative medications.

Merck chose to withdraw Vioxx from the market after the data safety monitoring board overseeing a long-term study of the drug recommended that the study be halted because of an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, blood clots, and pulmonary embolism among study patients taking Vioxx compared to patients receiving a placebo. The study was being done in patients at risk of developing recurrent colon polyps.

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Vioxx drug contradictions

Vioxx is contraindicated in patients concurrently taking blood pressure medications, and/or patients with a history of heart problems.

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Vioxx FAQs

What are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs are a large group of drugs that have pain-relieving and fever reducing effects, as well as reducing inflammation when used over time. The anti-inflammatory effects may take anywhere from a few days to three weeks to take effect. Non-selective (traditional) NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, aspirin, Nabumetone and Naproxen work by inhibiting both the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes to stop the production of prostaglandins, while COX-2 inhibitors only block the COX-2 enzyme. Common uses for NSAIDs are:

  • Treatment of pain and inflammation associated with arthritis (inflammation and resulting pain of one or more joints, a common characteristic of over 200 rheumatic diseases with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the most common forms).
  • Back pain and sciatica (pain down into the leg, which travels below the knee and may involve the foot).
  • Sprains, strains and rheumatism.
  • Menstrual cramps (primary dysmenorrhoea – mild, and menorrhagia – heavy).
  • Migraines, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
  • Other painful conditions, particularly those with symptoms of inflammation.

How many people may have been adversely affected by Vioxx?

According to the government, Vioxx may have caused 27,000 heart attacks and strokes.

I didn’t have a heart attack or a stroke while using Vioxx, but I did suffer health problems. Do I still have a right to compensation?

Yes. Just because you didn’t suffer a heart attack or stroke while using Vioxx does not mean you do not have a potential claim. Vioxx has been linked to other side effects.

What is the difference between joining a class action lawsuit against Merck and filing individually?

A class action lawsuit is the consolidation of several related lawsuits into one. You may join a class action lawsuit if your injuries and legal issues are substantially similar to other class members. In fact, in some instances, you may be bound by a judicial decision in a class action suit if you do not expressly “opt out” by informing the court that you do not wish to be a part of the class. If you have suffered more severe injuries than the other class members after using Vioxx, you should contact an experienced defective drug litigation attorney who can help you decide whether to file your own individual lawsuit.

Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Vioxx?

Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Emotional distress

If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Vioxx, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Vioxx lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.

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