Skip to main content

NHS: Drugs

Volume 472: debated on Thursday 21 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of people who have experienced (a) strokes and (b) heart attacks related to their use of the drug Vioxx. (185402)

Data are not available on which to base a valid estimate of the number of heart attacks, strokes and other adverse effects that may have been caused by Vioxx and other COX-2 inhibitors. The underlying medical condition of many patients treated with COX-2 inhibitors means that they are already at higher risk of heart attack and stroke than the rest of the population, and the impact of the COX-2 inhibitor on this risk is not possible to calculate.

Since Vioxx was voluntarily withdrawn by the manufacturer in 2004, the safety of other COX-2 inhibitors and traditional anti-inflammatory drugs—non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—has been under continual and intense assessment in the United Kingdom and Europe. The latest evidence suggests that both NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors might pose a small increased risk of heart attacks or strokes, although the exact level of risk may vary between medicines. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has widely communicated the latest information and advice for healthcare professionals in letters and bulletins, and other publications through liaison with the British National Formulary and National Prescribing Centre. In addition, product information (including patient information leaflets) has been updated in order to support informed decision-making in relation to the choice of anti-inflammatory medicine.