Patients with chronic pain often have to make the difficult choice between suffering from their conditions or suffering potential side effects of a pain medication. While many drugs on the market can ease pain symptoms with little risk to a patient, some pose risks that are not fully known until they have been in widespread use—and as patients taking Vioxx® have discovered, the full effects of a drug can be far worse than any pain.
Vioxx Side Effects Include Bleeding and Heart Problems
Although Vioxx was recalled by the manufacturer in 2004, countless patients suffered debilitating medical conditions as a result of using the drug. Several studies have outlined the risks of taking Vioxx and other COX-2 inhibitors, including these potential side effects:
- Heart attacks. Vioxx has been known to cause heart and blood flow risks even before it was released into the U.S. market. Clinical trials conducted by the drug’s creator identified a four-fold increase in heart problems for patients taking Vioxx® over those taking traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Patients were also at higher risk of other heart problems, including hypertension, angina pectoris, hematoma, irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, pulmonary edema, and congestive heart failure.
- Strokes. Drugs such as Vioxx block the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), preventing the body from experiencing inflammation and pain. However, COX-2 inhibitors have also been shown to block enzyme COX-1, which is necessary for the cells to create a natural blood thinner. Without proper COX-1 functioning, patients are more likely to suffer from blood clots, increasing the risk of strokes, pulmonary embolism, transient ischemic attacks, and deep venous thrombosis.
- Gastrointestinal problems. Vioxx carries a higher risk of gastrointestinal side effects, including diarrhea, acid reflux, constipation, indigestion or heartburn, and nausea. Some patients have suffered duodenal ulcers as a result of taking Vioxx, which have led to gastrointestinal bleeding.
- Liver function. Patients taking Vioxx suffered three times the risk of elevated liver toxicity than patients taking traditional pain relievers. Vioxx not only increased the chances of liver damage in patients, it also led to the development of liver disease and eventual liver failure in some cases.
- Skin conditions. Many patients suffered a skin condition called neutrophilic dermatosis, which causes nodules to appear under the surface of the skin. Patient have reported nodules on the front and back of their legs (some of which ulcerated) as well as fluid retention in the legs (edema) within one to two weeks of starting Vioxx treatment.
- Flulike symptoms. Minor side effects of Vioxx have included fatigue, dizziness, upper respiratory infections, chest pain, chills, fever, fluid retention, infections, pain, dry or scratchy throat, ear infections, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
Help for Victims and Families Injured by Vioxx
Even though patients can no longer be prescribed Vioxx for arthritis and joint pain, many people who took the medication are still suffering from adverse effects. After several studies uncovered the significant heart and bleeding risks of the medication, patients filed claims against Merck for releasing a dangerous drug into the marketplace and failing to warn consumers of the risks. Merck settled 35,000 of these claims in 2007, paying victims and their survivors over $4 billion in damages.
In addition to settling civil cases, Merck has also plead guilty to criminal charges related to Vioxx. In 2011, the company admitted guilt on federal misdemeanor charges for negligent marketing practices, and paid over $900 million to federal and state governments as well as a $300 million criminal fine.
If you have suffered a blood clot, heart attack, or stroke after taking COX-2 inhibitors like Vioxx, we can help. The McGartland Law Firm is organizing a nationwide litigation effort to benefit clients who were unnecessarily injured by this dangerous drug. We have won multi-million dollar settlements for our clients, and we do not collect any legal fees unless we win your case. Call the number on this page today to tell your story to a dangerous drugs attorney.