Merck announced worldwide withdrawal of VIOXX

By Jennifer Lassiter
star staff
jlassiter@starhq.com

  Hampton Pharmacy along with pharmacies worldwide started clearing their shelves of a well-known prescription arthritis pain relief medication, VIOXX.
  Pharmacist Lanny Peters of Hampton Pharmacy began pulling the anti-inflammatory drug from the shelves early Friday morning.
  "We are not filling any more of the prescriptions," said Peters. "The manufacturer is asking that customers send the drugs back through the mail and not bring them back to the pharmacy."
  Merck announced on Thursday, a voluntary worldwide withdrawal of VIOXX, an acute pain medication. The company's decision was based on new, three-year data from prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the APPROVe (Adenomatous Polyp Prevention on VIOXX) trial.
  Merck withdrew the drug from the market after a long-term study of the drug showed an increase risk of serious cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, among study patients taking VIOXX compared to patients receiving placebo. The study was being done in patients at risk of developing recurrent colon polyps.
  "We are taking this action because we believe it best serves the interest of patients," said Raymond V. Gilmartin, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Merck. "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."
  Patients currently taking VIOXX should contact their health care providers to discuss discontinuing use of VIOXX and possible alternative treatment.
  "We are seeing patients change to Celebrex and Bextra," said Peters at Hampton Pharmacy.