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Vioxx: Anger and Agony

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"My doctor called in September 2004 and told me to stop taking Vioxx because he heard about cardiovascular problems associated with it. One month later, I got the letter from Merck, but the damage had already been done," says Linda Long of Balton, Georgia.

Vioxx side effects"I have several ruptured discs from a work injury. In March 2000 my neurosurgeon sent me to a pain specialist and he prescribed Vioxx for inflammation. It had just come into the marketplace and he gave me a few samples to see if it would work: It did. He gave me a prescription but sometimes I had break-through pain so he said it was okay to take 50 mg of Vioxx a day for five days and then drop down to 25 mg after that. If I was still hurting, he gave me a steroid injection in my neck.

In March 2003, my right leg became extremely swollen and very red. My Mom insisted that I go to the hospital so we went to emergency. I wouldn't have gone by myself and if that was the case, I wouldn't be here now. As soon as the nurse practitioner saw me, she knew what it was - a blood clot. But it wasn't just an ordinary blood clot: it was a deep vein thrombosis and there was nothing they could do about it.

I was in the hospital for two weeks, taking Coumadin (blood thinner) plus herapin injections into my stomach about four times a day. I was a sick girl. The blood clot extended from my right ankle to my knee and it moved from my knee to my groin. The doctors were hoping the drugs were going to dissolve it but it didn't. I still have the blood clot. When I was finally stable enough to go home, I had to go to the doctor daily for another two weeks. And I couldn't eat any grains, any food with vitamin K in it. Vioxx messed up my whole world.

I stopped taking Vioxx in September 2004 because my doctor phoned me and told me not to take it anymore. He heard about all the cardiovascular problems associated with it. Instead, he prescribed a non-aspirin pain reliever and pain block injections. But the damage had already been done.

About one month later, Merck sent me a letter stating that Vioxx could give you cardiovascular problems such as peripheral artery disease (PAD), that my doctor thinks I am now developing in my left leg. I was furious when I read that letter. They used me as a guinea pig. I went on the Internet to their website - merck.com - and wrote a nasty letter telling them how I felt. I didn't hear a word back.

But here I am now, my health is very high risk and my doctors don't want me to do any physical exercise except walk half a block per day. I am pretty much housebound. I am supposed to lie down five times a day with my feet up and take a two-hour afternoon nap. A lot of the medications I have to take are hard on my health but I have no choice. But I don't let it get me down; I try to get outside and do things such as mow the grass, groom my dogs. My mother has to walk them for me. I used to walk three miles a day; I was no couch potato, I used to be active.

I am very angry that Merck would use human beings like this. Just think about the people that died; the drug manufacturers must have known they were hurting people. Having to live this way is horrible. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't prescribe Vioxx to their own families."

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