More on Vioxx

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Category : General, Medical Rants, Pharma

I always admired the marketting guru who developed the name. Vioxx – a V and 2 x’s. Brilliant.

Unfortunately, Vioxx has a new place in history – that of a drug which should revolutionize how we consider drug safety.

Arthritis drug heart harm claim

The Food and Drug Administration study in the Lancet said Vioxx could have caused up to 140,000 cases of coronary heart disease in the US since 1999.

Over 106.7m prescriptions were given to patients in the US. In the UK, 400,000 patients were prescribed the drug.

Its makers Merck said it was withdrawn as soon as research confirmed a risk.

However, the UK’s Arthritis Research Campaign called the latest Lancet study results “shocking”.

Here is the problem. We have the foxes guarding the chicken coop. The pharmaceutical industry has the responsibility to do all the initial research on a new drug. Their job is to find indications for the drug, emphasizing the benefits and minimizing the risks.

We need a new procedure. The testing of new drugs should become a job for dispassionate researchers. The pharmaceutical companies should provide moneys for drug testing, but have no influence on what studies are done or how they are performed. Only if we have the research at arm’s length from those in position to benefit from the study results can we have ethical evaluation of new drugs.

Is this position anti-capitalistic? I argue that the public welfare requires that we have good data on drugs, diagnostic tests, etc.

One could argue that such a system would benefit the pharmaceutical industry. They need to know whether a drug has risks prior to developing their marketing campaigns. Vioxx had exquisite marketing, and that marketing success will now cost them millions of dollars.

By doing their own research, pharmaceutical companies place themselves at risk for such occurences. They would be better served by having all research transparent rather than opaque.

The public health would also benefit from such a plan. While I know that someone will make an argument against this idea, I am having a difficult time constructing it.

I hope this incident leads to a transparent workable process for the future. Those harmed by Vioxx deserve that.

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Comments (2)

[…] 8; JournalClub skips that controversy in favor of the one about Vioxx and the 140,000 MIs. DB s Medical Rants chimes in, saying, "Vioxx has a new place in history – that of a […]

While you are at the business of reforming pharmacological research,which indeed it needs, put in a good word for us seniors. Drugs are prescribed for us which have not been tested for seniors at all. Our physical systems and tolerance change as we grow older – a dosage for the average person may have an adverse effect on an older person. Many times prescriptions for us have to be cut in half, at least. And that’s just guesswork, because there is no research to back it up. Of course, prescriptions tailor-made for the individual would be the ideal, but, since that is out of the question, maybe we could encourage testing of a drug for older people, BEFORE we are harmed by it.

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