Did Merck Know?

Merck, maker of the harmful COX-2 inhibitor Vioxx, has repeatedly denied that it knew about the drug’s harmful effects. However, studies and research show that Merck in fact was aware that Vioxx would increase a patient’s risk of side effects such as congestive heart failure, stroke and heart attack.

Highly profitable
Vioxx was one of Merck’s most profitable drugs, generating almost $2.5 billion in sales annually. When it was taken off the market in September 2004, Merck cited that it was “putting patient safety first.”

The risk of side effects associated with taking COX-2 inhibitors like Vioxx is that patients are gambling with blood clots that can cause serious heart problems.

Merck knew of Vioxx problems back in ’97

As far back as 1997—two years before its debut—Merck scientists knew about problems associated with Vioxx. Its scientists insisted that unless patients took aspirin with Vioxx, they would experience more thrombotic (blood clot) events. [Timeline of events]

When word was leaked that Merck knew of the dangers of Vioxx, it quickly submitted a statement saying that harmful side effects were only linked to long-term usage of the drug. However, recent studies show that short-term usage (even as short as a week) can be linked to congestive heart failure, heart attack and stroke.

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