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Commentary

Attacks on Vioxx don't ad up
Paul Mulshine, The Star-Ledger, 12-23-04

Part of the maelstrom engulfing the pharmaceutical industry is being actively fanned by trial lawyers eager to rake in billion-dollar payoffs similar to earlier victories in tobacco, asbestos, and breast implant litigations – each one of them a stain on the nation’s judicial system.

Far from being killer drugs, Mulshine points out that the Cox-2 drugs were designed to avoid the side effects of other pain medications like aspirin and ibuprofen, which “kill about 16,500 people a year and cause about 103,000 hospitalizations, according to a report earlier this year by the American Gastroenterological Association.”

Aspirin may be dangerous, but it is a generic drug with no deep pockets behind it and a benign reputation. Conversely, the media has focused so relentlessly on the new risks of Cox-2 inhibitors (as opposed to benefits) that drug companies are now sitting ducks for the lawsuit lobby.

Who will invent the next generation of Cox-2 drugs, ones that will avoid both the heart attack risk of first generation drugs like Vioxx, and the bleeding problems associated with older painkillers?

“Certainly not Merck. That firm will be lucky to survive the onslaught of litigation ... And if Merck goes under, it will no longer be able to produce such drugs as the cervical cancer vaccine [it now has] in development – the first ever cancer-vaccine, by the way.”



Project FDA.
  
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