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Study Confirms Vioxx and Bextra Dangers

Aug 8, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Another study has confirmed that Vioxx and Bextra increase the risk of having a stroke.  Both Bextra and Vioxx were removed from the market because of their association with heart attacks and stroke.

This latest study, which looked at the stroke risk of COX2 inhibitors like Vioxx and Bextra, as well as the risk of other NSAIDs like ibuprofen, was conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.  The study focused on the seven most common NSAIDs, including Celebrex, Vioxx, Bextra, ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacin, and diclofenac.

Among the participants, 78,036 were current users of one of the seven study NSAIDs, 16,420 were current users of other NSAIDs or NSAID combinations, and 242,450 were nonusers.

The study found that the risk of stroke was 28 percent higher among Vioxx users and 41 percent higher among Bextra users. The risk of stroke was not significantly increased with Celebrex or with other NSAIDs

In an interview with Reuters news service, lead researcher  Dr. Christianne Roumie said the decisions to take Vioxx and Bextra off the market were justified.  "This study suggests that rofecoxib (Vioxx) and valdecoxib (Bextra) were associated with higher stoke risk than other NSAIDs," Roumie said in the interview.

"Because of this and other studies, their withdrawal from the market is appropriate and these medications should not be re-introduced, especially since safer alternatives are available," she explained.

Bextra, made by Pfizer, was removed from the market in 2005.  In May, The Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer had reached settlements with three law firms representing patients who sued over the drug.  Pfizer was reportedly offering such patients as much as $200,000 to settle their Bextra cases.

Vioxx was recalled in 2004.  Last November, Merck announced a $4.85 billion settlement with the thousands of people who had filed Vioxx injury lawsuits.  Under the terms of the settlement, Merck set up a $4 billion fund for people who claim they suffered heart attacks as a result of Vioxx, and another $850 million fund for those who suffered ischemic strokes. Partial settlement payments are expected to start going out this month.

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