Vioxx was withdrawn from the market in 2004. It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and certain forms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It works by reducing substances that cause inflammation , pain and fever in the body. It is also used to manage acute pain in adults, treat migraines and to treat menstrual pain.


The manufacturer announced a voluntary withdrawal of Vioxx due to safety concerns of an increased risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke, and blood clots. Other side effects can include abdominal pain, nausea, blood in vomit, water retention, unusual fatigue or unusual bleeding or bruising.


Merck’s withdrawal of Vioxx in 2004 prompted thousands of lawsuits that claimed Merck did not properly warn doctors and physicians of the drug’s risk. To settle these suits Merck established a $485 billion fund in 2007; $4 billion was set aside for those who suffered heart attacks as a result of Vioxx, and another $850 million was for those who suffered  ischemic stokes. The amount of money awarded to each plaintiff varied.