Patients often take pain relievers without giving the potential side effects a second thought. Most pain relievers that consumers consider safe have been on the market for years, allowing their full effects to become known. In the case of Vioxx®, an experimental non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) released in 1999, the temporary relief of pain came at the cost of strokes, organ damage, and blood clots.
What Could Patients Expect After Taking Vioxx?
While there are many side effects of Vioxx that can cause temporary discomfort, users were overwhelmingly likely to suffer serious health complications as a result of Vioxx use. Although the drug has been recalled and should no longer be used, patient injuries have occurred along many points after starting Vioxx treatment, including:
- Days. The drug has been linked to kidney problems that range from sudden reduction in urine output to renal failure. One woman suffered kidney failure after receiving just one dose of rofecoxib (the active ingredient contained in Vioxx) to treat lower back pain, and required hospitalization to reverse the effects.
- Weeks. Shortly after the drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the FDA began receiving reports of studies of adverse cardiovascular events in patients taking Vioxx. Research done by independent studies as well as the creator of the drug discovered that some patients suffered strokes, heart attacks, and dangerous blood clots in as little as fourteen days after starting the medication.
- Months. While up to 15% of patients who take NSAIDs may experience fluctuations on their liver functions tests, some patients taking Vioxx experienced liver elevations over three times the normal level. Patients who had abnormal liver tests or a history of liver disease were extremely susceptible to liver failure while taking Vioxx—a risk that increased the longer the patient continued taking the drug.
- Years. In addition to its heart risks, the long-term effects of Vioxx have included serious gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, including inflammation, ulcers, bleeding, and even perforation of the stomach, intestines, or esophagus. Up to 4% of patients treated with NSAID therapy for a year or more can suffer GI side effects, many of which can cause hospitalization or become fatal. Families of patients who have been killed due to perforated ulcers, strokes, or heart attacks could continue paying for a relative’s end-of-life costs a year or more after the medication resulted in death (and suffer the increased financial burden for the rest of their lives).
Lawsuits Claim That Merck Ignored Vioxx Dangers
Although Merck voluntarily recalled Vioxx in 2004, countless patients had already experienced or even succumbed to severe injuries due to the drug. A 2002 epidemiological study conclusively discovered that higher doses of Vioxx led to significantly more incidences of heart attacks and strokes than lower doses, while an FDA scientist has concluded Vioxx had been a factor in over 27,000 heart attacks or cardiac deaths since its release. To date, Merck has settled 35,000 Vioxx claims and paid nearly $5 billion in damages.
Lawsuits brought by former patients and family members have alleged that Merck was aware of the cardiovascular dangers of Vioxx years prior to the recall, and that the company either ignored or suppressed evidence of increased heart attack risk. The McGartland Law Firm is coordinating a nationwide litigation effort on behalf of clients who were injured or killed as a result of taking Vioxx. We have won multi-millions of dollars for our clients who have suffered as a result of negligent drugmakers, and we do not collect any legal fees unless we win your case. Contact us today using our online contact form or by calling the number on this page to find out how we can help.