has the experience
and resources to
handle complex claims involving prescription medication.
The information on this page is provided for informational purposes only. As of 2011, the Simmons firm is no longer accepting cases involving Vioxx.
Filing a Lawsuit
Initial reports treated Vioxx as a miracle drug, as it seemed to work better than traditional nonsterodial anti-inflammatories (NSADs) like ibuprofen or aspirin. Even better, it provided pain relief without the serious problems from stomach ulcers, including bleeding, that was associated with long-term use.
Later, tests indicated that Vioxx users were twice as likely to suffer heart attacks or strokes as compared to those who did not take the drug. As a result, on September 30, 2004, Merck and Company, who manufactured Vioxx, announced they were voluntarily recalling the drug.
At the time of the recall, approximately 2 million people were taking Vioxx. Two other major Cox-2 inhibitors, Celebrex and Bextra, have also come under much-deserved scrutiny.
What is Vioxx?
Vioxx and other Cox-2 Inhibitors were introduced in the late 1990s. Cox-2 Inhibitors are pain relievers used to treat osteoarthritis, acute pain and painful menstrual cycles.
The pharmaceutical company of Merck and Company recalled Vioxx voluntarily. See more information regarding vioxx side effects.
Timeline of Events
May 1999 - Vioxx is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for treatment of osteoarthritis, menstrual pain, and acute pain in adults
March 2000 - Merck reveals that the VIGOR study found Vioxx patients had double the rate of serious cardiovascular problems than those on Naproxen (an older nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID). Merck attributed the difference to the protective effect of Naproxen.
May 2001 - Merck issues Press Release stating that Vioxx had “a favorable cardiovascular safety profile”
August 2001 - The Journal of the American Medical Association publishes results of a study by the Cleveland Clinic that indicated that the heart attack rate for patients taking Vioxx were significantly higher than that for patients taking a sugar pill (placebo)
September 2001 - The FDA issued a severe warning letter to Merck finding that Mercks’s representations in the May, 2001 press release concerning Vioxx’s safety were “simply incomprehensible in light of the known data that cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks) were twice as likely in Vioxx patients
April 2002 - The FDA tells Merck to change its Vioxx label to include information about the cardiovascular risks from the VIGOR study
October 2003 - Merck study finds 39% increased risk within first 90 days when compared to Celebrex
September 2004 - Merck says it just learned that patents taking Vioxx were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke as those on placebo
September 30, 2004 - Merck pulls Vioxx off of the market. It is estimated that 2 million people are taking Vioxx when it is recalled.
Vioxx Side Effects
Some side effects of Vioxx (rofecoxib) are:
- abdominal pain
- water retention
Other Vioxx side effects, some of which are potentially dangerous, include insomnia, urinary retention (inability to urinate), 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.
Allergic type reactions can occur with Vioxx (rofecoxib). Persons who have developed allergic reactions (rash, itching, difficulty breathing) from aspirin or other NSAIDs may experience an allergic reaction to rofecoxib and should not use rofecoxib.
Vioxx should be used cautiously in patients with heart disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the most important information I should know about Vioxx?
- What have been the most serious health concerns raised regarding Vioxx?
- What should I tell the doctor if I suspect I have arthritis?
- What questions should I ask before leaving the doctor's office for treatment of arthritis?
- What should I do if I think I have been injured as a result of taking Vioxx?
- How could I succeed in suing the manufacturer of a drug like Vioxx?
What is the most important information I should know about Vioxx?
If you will be taking this medicine for a long time, your doctor should check your progress at regular visits. Serious side effects can occur during treatment with this medicine. Notify your doctor immediately if you develop abdominal pain, tenderness, or discomfort; nausea; blood in your vomit; bloody, black, or tarry stools; unexplained weight gain; swelling or water retention; fatigue or lethargy; a skin rash; itching; yellowing of your skin or eyes; "flu-like" symptoms; or unusual bruising or bleeding.
What have been the most serious health concerns raised regarding Vioxx?
Vioxx has been linked to possible cardiovascular complications, including blood clots, heart attacks and strokes, and to kidney failure.
What should I tell the doctor if I suspect I have arthritis?
The following includes some of the things you should tell your doctor: where you have pain or stiffness; when you have pain or stiffness; what the pain feels like (sharp/stabbing, dull/aching), how long the pain lasts, how long you have had the pain, what tasks you find difficult to do now, if you ever injured your joints or overused them in a job or a hobby, if anyone in your family had problems similar to yours, if you exercise, what kind of exercise you do and how often you do it.
What questions should I ask before leaving the doctor's office for treatment of arthritis?
What can I do to help relieve my pain and live more comfortably? What are the advantages and disadvantages of my various treatment options? When might I expect to start feeling better? What can I expect over the coming months/years? Under what circumstances should I call your office?
What should I do if I think I have been injured as a result of taking Vioxx?
If you have experienced unusual side effects after taking Vioxx, you should consult your physician immediately. Thereafter, you might want to contact an attorney experienced in product liability litigation to discuss potential legal claims you might have to recover for injuriesVioxx caused you.
How could I succeed in suing the manufacturer of a drug like Vioxx?
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 product liability theory. Drug manufacturers can also be held liable for injuries to consumers based on theories of negligence, or even intentional or malicious conduct.
* Please note that recovery results vary per client. The recovery amounts in each case reflect the specific facts of that case. Further, recovery amounts in past cases are not a guarantee of future results.
Resources for Clients
- FDA MedWatch for Vioxx
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Prescription for Trouble
- Healthfinder Resources on Arthritis
- Merck & Co., Inc.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
- RXList monograph on Vioxx
- WebMD articles on Vioxx
- New England Journal of Medicine
- American Heart Institute
- American Stroke Association
- New Jersey Superior Court
- Multi District Litigation in New Orleans
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