Baltimore, Maryland and Delaware
September 30, 2004: Merck & Company announced the recall of Vioxx, its popular arthritis pain relief drug. This announcement followed a recent study that showed strong evidence of increased risk of heart attacks and strokes for patients using Vioxx.
Vioxx (rofecoxib) was used to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. According to Merck, Vioxx was intended to be an improved version of previous similar painkillers.
There have been several studies over the last few years that have indicated a higher risk of negative side effects associated with the use of Vioxx as compared with other pain relief drugs. The most recent was the Cleveland Clinic Study in which 2,600 patients were studied. Patients using Vioxx over an 18-month period were at double the risk for heart attack and stroke. Until the Cleveland Clinic Study, Merck had maintained that Vioxx was safe.