Merck and Co. said Thursday it was voluntarily withdrawing its arthritis and pain medication Vioxx effective immediately after a study revealed an increased relative risk for cardiovascular problems.

Vioxx has been marketed in more than 80 countries and produced sales of 2.5 billion dollars in 2003.

“We are taking this action because we believe it best serves the interests of patients,” said Merck chairman Raymond Gilmartin.

“Although we believe it would have been possible to continue to market Vioxx with labeling that would incorporate these new data, given the availability of alternative therapies, and the questions raised by the data, we concluded that a voluntary withdrawal is the responsible course to take.”

Merck said it has informed the US Food and Drug Administration and regulatory authorities in other countries of its decision.

The company also said it is notifying health care practitioners in the United States and other countries where Vioxx is marketed, while advising people taking the medication “to discuss discontinuing use of Vioxx and possible alternative treatments.”

Merck shares tumbled 8.39 dollars, or 19 percent, in pre-opening trade, to 36.68 dollars.

We're here to help!

We live by our creed of “helping those who need it most” and have helped thousands of clients get the justice they desperately needed and deserved. If you feel you have a case or just have questions please contact us for a free consultation. There is no risk and no fees unless we win for you.

Fields marked * may be required for submission.

The extra mile

I can't thank Beasley Allen enough for their excellent and hard work. At every point, they went the extra mile.