A soon to be published study suggests that increased heart risks associated with Vioxx began immediately after people took the painkiller. That contradicts Merck’s assertion that the drug caused serious heart risks only after 18 months of use. (via, Pharmalot)
A pre-publication review of the study is published in today’s Wall $treet Journal. As per the Journal:
The new study, known as Victor, was conducted by researchers at Oxford University in England…
The study, which was designed to see whether the drug would curb progression of colon cancer, compared Vioxx, known generically as rofecoxib, with placebo in a total of 2,434 patients who were followed for two years. The study was halted when Merck pulled Vioxx from the market after another study, known as Approve, linked the drug to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. The new report includes only information about cardiovascular findings.
According to the manuscript, 16 of the 23 cardiovascular events occurred in the Vioxx patents, and half of those occurred in patients within 12 months of taking the drug. “It would appear…that patients do not need to take rofecoxib for 18 months to be at increased risk of a cardiovascular thrombotic event,” the authors wrote. The study also suggests that by 14 days after patients stopped taking the drug, the risk of heart and stroke went away.
The study is to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The WSJ reviewed the article prior to publication.