Arthritis Drug Raises Risk for Heart Attack

Susan Farley
Published Online: Monday, November 1, 2004

After reviewing the medical records of 1.4 million people enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente health plan, researchers discovered 8199 cases of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths and may have linked these incidents to the arthritis drug rofecoxib (Vioxx). According to lead investigator Dr. David Graham, a major finding of this study was that patients taking a standard starting dose of rofecoxib had a 50% greater chance of heart attack and sudden cardiac death than those patients taking another arthritis drug, celecoxib (Celebrex). Investigators also found that those patients taking the highest recommended dosage of rofecoxib were 3 times as likely to suffer a heart attack or sudden cardiac death as those patients taking standard painkillers. Vioxx manufacturer Merck has voluntarily withdrawn rofecoxib from the market.

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