Report: Merck tried to alter Vioxx

The Associated Press is reporting that researchers at Merck were working to change the formulation of the Cox-2 painkiller Vioxx years before the drug was taken off the market. Internal company documents reveal that in March of 2000 researchers began exploring the possibility of combining Vioxx with an agent that would block blood platelets from clotting -- a key to preventing undesirable cardiovascular events -- even as the company insisted its drug was safe.

The new evidence appears to contradict the official line that Merck had full confidence in the safety of its drug. The documents also show that the company attempted to patent the new combination at that time. However, a New Jersey judge has already ruled to block the evidence from court.

- see this story from the AP

PLUS: US Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) looks at the lessons learned from the Vioxx debacle in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Story