The Hong Kong Health Department notified the Hong Kong agent of pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. to withdraw the prescription medication Vioxx from all Hong Kong stores. Merck voluntarily withdrew Vioxx (rofecoxib) from the retail market after studies showed that Vioxx could increase the risk of stroke and heart attack when used continuously for over 18 months. Vioxx is a selective, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid- or osteo-arthritis and acute pain.
In a recent radio interview, Chen Yonjian, the general chief pharmacist of the Hong Kong Health Department, revealed that Merck & Co. has begun recalling Vioxx from all hospitals and pharmacies in Hong Kong. Pharmacists suggest that patients who were prescribed Vioxx stop taking it right away.