The side-effects and subsequent withdrawal of the arthritis treatment Vioxx were due to animal tests
Vioxx was extensively studied in thousands of human patients, both before and after it was approved by over 70 regulatory agencies around the world. For any new medicine, animal and other tests are meant to help work out if the medicine is safe enough for human trials. In the case of Vioxx, the answer was yes – animal tests did their job well.
Only when over 80 million patients around the world had taken this medicine and some long-term patient studies had been conducted was the increased risk of heart attack firmly established.
One answer to the problem of rare drug side effects is better scrutiny after approval. This would help to predict which patients might react badly – because of their genetic make-up, multiple illnesses or interactions with other medication.
IMAGE: WELLCOME IMAGES