Vioxx study finds arthritis drug increases heart attack risk

September 1, 2004 -- An FDA financed study presented at an epidemiologists conference in Bordeaux, France on August 25, 2004 suggested Vioxx patients have a 50 percent greater chance of suffering heart attacks and sudden cardiac death than patients using a rival drug Celebrex. Sudden cardiac death is the largest cause of death in the United States.

The researchers had discovered the Vioxx findings after analyzing medical records of 1.4 million people insured by the Oakland, California based insurer Kaiser Permanente, finding 8,199 heart attacks and cases of sudden cardiac death among the Kaiser members between the years 1999 and 2001. Patients in the study taking the highest recommended daily dose of Vioxx had three times the risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death as those not taking standard painkillers.

Even before Vioxx hit the market in 1999, Vioxx maker Merck & Co. Inc.'s own 8,000 patient trial found over twice as many arthritis patients taking Vioxx had heart attacks and strokes than those taking the most popular older arthritis treatment naproxen. Merck has argued it was not Vioxx causing heart problems but that naproxen was providing some type of a benefit in preventing them.

Vioxx has been a $2.5 billion a year drug but has suffered sales in recent years due to continuing safety concerns.

For more information in regards to Vioxx and it's risks,