Merck paying off 3,100 families for heart attack/stroke deaths linked to Vioxx painkilling drug

vioxx blueDrug giant Merck & Co. is paying the families of more than 3,100 Vioxx painkiller users who died of heart attacks and strokes that were blamed on the drug. Merck introduced Vioxx in 1999 but withdrew it from the market in 2004 when a study showed the drug doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes. By 2007, Merck had set up a fund of $4.85 billion (yes, that’s billion with a ‘B’)  to cover claims of death and lesser injuries, after reserving $1.9 billion to fight over 26,600 Vioxx lawsuits in court. Houston attorney Mark Lanier observed at the time:

“We don’t know any drug right now with this number of deaths associated with it. This is a very sad chapter in the tragedy of pharmaceutical companies gone wild.” 

And – quelle surprise! – Vioxx turns out to be one of countless prescription drugs that have been fraudulently promoted in industry-funded ghostwritten articles in medical journals.    Continue reading