A new study, approved for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine found that heart risks from the drug Vioxx began much sooner than Merck & Co. stated. The FDA approved Vioxx to treat the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in adults and children.

Vioxx was pulled from the market after an FDA-funded study found that the drug doubled the risk of heart attack after 18 months of use. The study found that both high and low levels of the medication increase the risk for cardiovascular events. But the new study is claiming that half of the patients who experienced cardiovascular problems had them within the first 12 months of use. The risk of heart attack went away after 14 days of the patient no longer using the medication.

Ted Mayer, outside counsel for the manufacturer of the drug, said that the company will not comment on the data from the study until it is published. "The reported findings with respect to confirmed thrombotic events in short-term use are not supported by the data found in the other available large placebo studies with Vioxx," Mayer stated in a statement.



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