Even in the face of disturbing developments concerning its experimental anti-clotting drug Vorapaxar, pharmaceutical giant Merck has shown a disturbing intent to proceed with development of this dangerous product.
Vorapaxar was once considered the most important drug in the development pipeline. In fact, as recently as 2009, Wall Street analysts predicted that the drug could generate $3 billion in annual sales for the company.
But prospects have lessened since.
In January, the drug underperformed in a large safety study, causing excess bleeding in patients who had previously suffered a stroke. Now, the drug’s performance in a new study known as the Tracer study has further dented its prospects.
The new study was designed to test the drug’s ability to improve various cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, stroke, chest pain, the need for artery-clearing, and cardiovascular death. And, in fact, patients on the drug in the Tracer study did see a lower rate of heart attacks.
But the slight decrease in the overall risk of cardiovascular problems was not statistically significant. Moreover, the drug continued to show problems with excess bleeding.
Patients on vorapaxar had an almost 40 percent increase in bleeding. These patients also had a rate of intracranial hemorrhage three times that of the control group. And as patients remained on the drug, the risk of bleeding only increased over time.
One would think that, in light of these results, Vorapaxar would be finished. But, even after the results of the Tracer study were announced, Merck announced its intention to continue pursuing the drug. The company said it was waiting on the results of another large study of the drug, and that the “bleeding needs to be understood more” before a final decision could be made.
Our product liability attorneys are troubled by the company’s attitude towards these results. Excessive bleeding and intracranial hemorrhage are extremely serious, and often deadly, side effects.
We urge Merck to suspend development of this dangerous drug immediately. Should the drug proceed to market despite the company’s knowledge of the dangers, as confirmed in multiple studies, Merck will be responsible for the unnecessary injuries and deaths caused as a result.
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