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Could Long Tern Vioxx Users Suffer From Heart Attacks?

Dr. Barry Rayburn, a cardiologist from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, told a jury at the latest Vioxx product liability trial that the drug showed no significant difference in the rate of heart attacks //among its users and those taking similar drugs or placebos. The drug Vioxx is produced and marketed by Merck & Co.'s. The doctor testified on Tuesday and told a jury that the studies, covering a total of about 28,000 patients, contained no evidence that Vioxx exposed users to a higher rate of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events than comparable drugs or sugar pills.

The data collected from 28000 patients doesn't show any evidence that there is an increased risk of these kinds of events in patients taking Vioxx. Merck is being sued by Thomas Cona, 59, and John McDarby, 77 who are both long-term Vioxx users. They blame the drug and the company for their heart attacks. The doctor also pointed out to the study published in 2000 of some 8,000 rheumatoid arthritis patients. It was showed that these patients showed a higher rate of heart attacks among Vioxx users because the drug was compared to a protective effect of naproxen.

It is a common pain drug to which Vioxx was being compared but it did not prove that Vioxx increased cardiovascular risk. When the doctor was questioned about another study which involved 5,500 osteoarthritis patients showing five heart attacks among Vioxx users compared with one for those taking naproxen, he dismissed that the data was not statistically significant. He pointed to the same study and revealed that the study found six strokes among naproxen users and none for Vioxx patients. Merck pulled its $2.5 billion-a-year pain drug off the market in September 2004 after a study showed it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients.

The current trial is the first to involve long-term Vioxx users. About 10,000 lawsuits that have been filed against Merck over Vioxx drug complications. Th e commoners say that the drug company knew about the drug increased heart risks before they withdrew the medicine from the market. But the company failed to adequately warn users because of the profit the drug brought to the company. Rayburn clearly told the jury of seven women and two men that Vioxx was not the cause of McDarby's heart attack. Rayburn told jurors that diabetes was the most important risk factor for McDarby's heart disease. Statistics show that about 75 to 80 % of those suffering from diabetes die of cardiovascular disease.


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