American Guinea Pig: The Vioxx/FDA Failure

The Vioxx story is one of the most widely publicized stories about the failure of the FDA to do its job. Back in May 1999, Vioxx was introduced into the market for the purpose of treating people with arthritis for their pain without the side-effect of other drugs which caused bleeding. The problem was that it had an increased ability to cause clotting which, in turn, caused heart attacks. The problem was further compounded by the fact that there was a study shortly after it went on the market that showed that, when comparing Vioxx with another drug that was used for the same type of treatment, Naproxen, that there was four times the incidence of heart attacks with Vioxx versus Naproxen. The problem was that the authors of the publication who were funded by Merck, the drug company, said that the difference was because Naproxen had a protective effect, the drug Vioxx was not actually causing those heart attacks. This proved to be false.

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