Vioxx Makers Say They Acted As Soon As They Knew

Merck: we acted as soon as we knew with Vioxx

Merck and Company says it is trying to find out why the popular pain drug Vioxx would increase the risk of heart attack. But officials insist they did not know definitively about the risk until they saw the results of a study of longterm Vioxx users. The drug was pulled from the market last week. Merck says longterm studies of Vioxx versus a placebo were not practical before the drug was approved for use in arthritis patients. The president of Merck Research Labs, Peter Kim, says, "These were people in pain." And he says, "They needed treatment."

An early study of Vioxx versus the non-prescription pain drug naproxen showed an elevated heart attack risk. But Merck says it believed that was because naproxen lowered the risk.