As I was trying to poke around the Internet on Vioxx, I stumbled on an interesting site.

In August of 2004, the FDA finally launched its own study, showing that the use of Vioxx was linked to more than 27,000 heart attacks or sudden cardiac deaths. The FDA stated, once and for all, that the use of Vioxx did not protect against heart problems. Merck responded by withdrawing the drug from the marketplace.

Talk about playing fast and loose with the facts. The drug was pulled from the market after the data was unblinded at the midpoint review of a double-blind study that Merck was conducting to determine the answer to the cardiovascular risk, in part at the request of the FDA. The FDA was not doing its own study, and Merck withdrew VIOXX from the market because of the results. It did so before the FDA had time to do anything, including forcing a label change or a withdrawl from the market.

In truth, Merck likely could have kept the drug on the market with a “black box” warning label, avoiding at least some of the appearance of impropriety. Because the company yanked it, it unfortunately gives the appearance of some deep secret that the company was hiding something.

At least, according to the same site, the statute of limitations on product liability cases is two years. Since the drug was yanked in early Fall 2005, anyone looking to cash in better hurry up and file.

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