If you are one of the estimated two million people worldwide taking the arthritis Vioxx, the Food and Drug Administration is urging that you consider an alternative. Drug giant Merck announced that it is halting sales of its popular drug, after tests found users at increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The results were found 18 months after patients started using Vioxx. The data came from a three-year study aimed at demonstrating that Vioxx prevents recurrence of polyps in the colon and rectum. The F-D-A has followed with an advisory recommending patients consult their doctor about taking something else. Vioxx produced two and a-half billion dollars in sales for Merck last year. And its announcement today has trimmed its stock value by about 25 percent. The news should benefit rival Pfizer, which produces the market-leading Celebrex arthritis drug and its successor named Bextra. Ray Gilmartin, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Merck, at a news conference Gilmartin says he thinks Merck can defend itself against any lawsuits that might result. Doctor Peter Kim, president of Merck Research Laboratories, at a news conference Kim says the drug was removed from the market because new data from a clinical trial found an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Doctor Peter Kim, president of Merck Research Laboratories, at a news conference Kim says pulling Vioxx is the right thing to do.
FDA release: www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2004/NEW01122.html