Dr. Peter S. Kim, president of Merck Research Laboratories, told a joint meeting of two Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) advisory committees on Thursday that new studies indicate the side effects aren't unique to its product.
The advisory panels were concluding a three-day meeting Friday in which they have been assessing drugs known as Cox-2 inhibitors, which also include Pfizer Inc.'s Celebrex and Bextra, to determine whether they are all risky and, if so, whether they have balancing benefits.
All three drugs have been approved for sale by the government. The committees' recommendations could be the first steps toward rescinding those approvals.
Meeting chairman Alistair J.J. Wood of Vanderbilt University Medical School asked whether the drugs could win approval today, considering the studies that have come to light in recent months.
Kim indicated a positive assessment by the committees might lead Merck to consider bringing Vioxx back onto the market.
If the committees and the FDA (news - web sites) conclude that the benefits of this class of drugs outweigh the risks for some patients, "then we would have to consider the implications of these new data" for Vioxx, Kim said.
Asked if he meant the company would consider returning Vioxx to the market, Kim said: "There are unique benefits to Vioxx. The science has progressed and we need to take that science into consideration."
While the committees heard evidence that all drugs in the group can increase the risk of heart attacks, irregular heart beat and strokes, it did note that Vioxx seemed to have more such reports than the other drugs.
On the other hand, Kim pointed out that Vioxx is the only one of the drugs approved for people with certain allergies and did better at preventing the stomach and intestinal problems often caused by over-the-counter painkillers.
Being the son of a parent with severe arthritis and heart problems, this crap drives me f*****g NUTS.
If I give my mom a pill, it might do some serious harm to her. If I don't she'll suffer, anyway.
I know, I know-stop whining Saul, and face reality. Everyone gets old, and them's the breaks. Been there, done that with my father-who's been dead now 3 years.
But it doesn't get any easier.