AU Federal Court: Arthritis Drug Vioxx Doubles Heart Attack Risk

Posted on Mar 31, 2010
Problems continue to mount for drug maker Merck, who is now fighting a number of international legal battles regarding their defective arthritis drug Vioxx, which was taken off of the market amid controversy in 2004. Most recently, an Australian court has found Vioxx liable for one man’s heart attack and Merck could end up paying millions to 500 participants in a larger class action lawsuit. In this latest court decision, Graeme Peterson has been awarded $287,000 compensation after suffering a heart attack while taking the drug for arthritis pain.

Vioxx was an anti-inflammatory drug and COX-2 inhibitor that was touted when first release in 1999 for helping patients with arthritis and other chronic pain without the common stomach problem side effects. At its height, 80 million people worldwide were taking Vioxx and it was one of the most popular choices for treating a range of chronic pain issues in patients.

However, in 2004, a study was released showing that the arthritis drug doubled the chances of heart attack, making it the most widely-used prescription drug ever to be pulled off of the market for being defective. After the drug was deemed dangerous, Merck faced thousands of wrongful death lawsuits and product liability lawsuits as well as thousands of class action lawsuits around the world.

Merck made $2.4 billion off of their drug Vioxx in the year before it was removed from the market. However, they have paid billions in legal fees and settlements in the years following the drug recall.

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