Canadian researchers have found that Vioxx painkiller manufactured by Merck & Co would result in an increased risk of heart attack within two weeks after patients start taking the drug. Statistics show that about 60 patients out of 239 elderly patients suffered from heart attacks within six to 13 days after they first started taking Vioxx. The study results are published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It was contrary to what Merck had previously told about the drug. It currently faces 11,500 Vioxx lawsuits. The company has been hit with three jury awards totaling $298.3 million, two of which involved short-term use of the painkiller. It is also associated with the death of a man who took the drug for a period of 30 days.
Linda Levesque, assistant professor of epidemiology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario said that it is highly dangerous for the first time users and they might suffer an attack in as little as two weeks. Merck is the fourth-biggest U.S. drug maker. It withdrew Vioxx in 2004 when the drug was proved to double the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It has set aside $970 million for legal costs and vows to fight each case rather than settle out of court. `Cases Easier to Win' Attorney Mark Lanier, the attorney for the drug company has already won two out of the three trials. Canadian researchers analyzed health records of 114,000 patients ages 66 and older who were prescribed painkillers, including Vioxx, Celebrex and ibuprofen. The study followed patients for about two and a half years, included 30,200 Vioxx users and 45,000 Celebrex users. Celebrex was not associated with any heart attacks but when patients started taking Vioxx it significantly increased the risk among patients. But it also diminished. But it is thought that the study would play a major role in contributing to making a better decision by the people.