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Merck withdraws Vioxx

Globe and Mail Update

Pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co. Inc. said Thursday it is withdrawing its widely perscribed arthritis and pain medication Vioxx from the market around the world.

The company said the decision came after data from colon cancer trials involving the drug suggested “there was an increased relative risk for confirmed cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.

Vioxx is being withdrawn immediately.

“We take this action because we believe it best serves the interests of the patients,” Merck president and chief executive officer Raymond Gilmartin said.

Vioxx was launched in the United States in 1999 and has been marketed in more than 80 countries. Worldwide sales of the drug in 2003 totalled $2.5-billion (U.S.).

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