The Fallout From Negative Vioxx Studies Continues

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March 09, 2006 | 5,713 views

The editors of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) have published more criticism of a Vioxx study funded by Merck, the drug's manufacturer.

The editors of the Journal allege that if the study had disclosed all of the heart-related side effects of the painkiller Vioxx, it would have shown that the benefits of the drug were negated by the problems.

Failure to Disclose

This expands on NEJM's earlier revelation that the study had failed to disclose several heart attacks that occurred among patients taking Vioxx, rendering the study's calculations and conclusions incorrect.

Letters from Merck

The NEJM also published two letters to the editor, one from Merck-employed scientists, arguing that the data was handled appropriately because the heart attacks had occurred after a specified cutoff date. The letters also claimed that the additional heart attacks did not affect the study's conclusions.

Five Times the Heart Attacks

When the additional data is factored in, the heart attack rate of Vioxx consumers rises from four times to five times the rate of those taking naproxen, a comparative drug.

The editorial states that at least two authors of the study were aware of the information more than four months prior to the study being published.

Merck faces over 9,000 Vioxx-related lawsuits.

You may recall the recent bombshell from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that Merck doctored studies published about Vioxx to make the numbers sound less lethal than they really were. Amazingly, Merck is still trying to argue that there was nothing wrong with the study.

Their pretzel-like logic only makes sense in the twisted world of conventional medicine, one in which commerce almost always trumps health and true healing.

Many newer readers may not realize that I was the first public voice to warn of the Vioxx catastrophe and sounded the Vioxx alarm over one year before the drug even came on the market -- and six years prior to it being made public in the media.

How this information plays a role in future Vioxx trials currently going on throughout the country is anyone's guess. That said, you don't have to resort to a drug -- prescribed or over-the-counter -- to treat your pain, if you take advantage of seven safer options I posted on my Web site last year:

Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice. Powder capsules are also available, but I recommend using the fresh root.

Boswellia: This herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients, referred to as boswellic acids that animal studies have shown significantly reduce inflammation. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many of my rheumatoid arthritis patients

Fish Oils: The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA found in fish oil have been found, by many animal and clinical studies, to have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce joint inflammation and promote joint lubrication.

Animal-based omega-3 fats are absolutely essential for any comprehensive anti-inflammatory program. Those of you who read the newsletter regularly know that I'm a fan of Carlson's brand fish oil and cod liver oil as I have seen clear and often substantial improvements in my patients who use it. It has shown particularly positive benefits in those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful.

Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory.

I have also used a topical preparation for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards.

Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.

These are the exception to omega-6 fats that are necessary to have in your diet. It is reasonable for many to take these as a supplement, particularly if you struggle with dry skin in the winter, as this is a strong indicator that you are deficient in these fats

I personally prefer the use of GLA supplements from evening primrose oil but borage oil contains a higher concentration of GLA, which means you need fewer capsules, and it tends to be less expensive.

Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to the brain.

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References