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More bad news about Vioxx

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: Vioxx, the painkiller yanked by Merck because it increased heart disease, is back in the news today. The Wall Street Journal reports this morning a new study finds Vioxx to be more dangerous than Merck has claimed.

This could have a big effect on the tens of thousands of Vioxx lawsuits pending against the drug maker. Marketplace's Dan Grech has more.


Dan Grech: Merck pulled Vioxx off shelves in 2004 when a study linked 18 months of use of the painkiller to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Ever since, Merck's legal strategy has been to divide Vioxx cases into short-term and long-term users of the drug.

The new study obliterates that distinction — it shows that Vioxx increased heart risk as soon as patients starting taking it. The Wall Street Journal's Heather Won Tesoriero wrote about the study conducted by independent researchers at Oxford University.

Heather Won Tesoriero: There are 28,000 cases in the Vioxx litigation — 15 of those have gone to trial. And for the plaintiffs who still have cases pending against Merck, this new study could potentially be a significant piece of evidence in their case.

Merck's Vioxx liability is estimated at $4 billion, and it may now go up. I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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