As you know, Merck spent big bucks trying to entice the media, the medical community, and even potential jurors to believe that heart attack risks don't come about until after 18 months of use.
Results from an unpublished study suggest increased heart risks associated with Vioxx began immediately. This exposes the 18-month myth, which had no basis in fact.
This discovery can't be viewed as good news for Merck in its ongoing litigation. Currently, there are about 28,000 Vioxx lawsuits around the U.S. involving heart attacks and strokes. For a limited time, Merck got away with its manufactured and bogus defense that the higher risks were only experienced by patients on long-term treatments of 18 months or more.
The present study, known as VICTOR, was conducted by Oxford University scientists and was accepted for publication by the New England Journal of Medicine. According to a manuscript reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, and reported on July 3rd, half of the cardiovascular incidents associated with Vioxx occurred in patients taking the drug for less than 12 months.
Elevated risks went away within 14 days of cessation (other studies have shown the risk continues for months afterward). There had been earlier studies that indicate that heart attack risks could occur with a relatively short period of Vioxx use. Now this latest study puts the nail in Merck's coffin on this issue.