Vioxx was a non- steroidal anti- inflammatory drug, made by Merck and Co. It was marketed between the years 1999 to 2004. It was used to relieve patients, mainly adults, from the pain and discomforts of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Though it carried a label claiming that it was safe for the stomach and liver, in some cases Vioxx did result in bleeding in the stomach and liver.

The drug was ultimately recalled because it caused problems associated with heart. People taking Vioxx were at an increased risk of heart- attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases. In 2004, under pressure from the FDA, Merck pulled the drug off the market worldwide, voluntarily.

The minor side effects of the drug were:

  • Giddiness or
  • Lethargy or weakness or
  • Loose stools.

In the event of the above mentioned side effects, it was important to discuss the same with your practitioner; however discontinuing the drug was not required.

The major side effects of the drug were so adverse, that they were distinguished as per the various systems of the human body, like the renal system, the nervous system and so on. The same has been explained in details as below:

  1. In Cardiovascular System- it could have caused:-
    1. Irregular heartbeat or
    2. Palpitations or
    3. Venous insufficiency or
  2. In the Digestive System- it could have caused:
    1. Acid reflux or
    2. Constipation or
    3. Symptoms of gas in digestive tract or
  3. In the Immune System- it could have caused:
    1. Hypersensitivity
    2. Insect bite reaction
    3. Allergy
  4. In the Musculoskeletal System: it could have caused
    1. Pain in arms, legs or other parts of the body
    2. Cartilage disturbance
    3. Muscular cramp or disorder or weakness
  5. In the Nervous System: it could have caused:
    1. Hypesthesia
    2. Insomnia
    3. Vertigo
  6. In the Respiratory System: it could have caused:
    1. Asthma
    2. Cough
    3. Pulmonary congestion
  7. In the ENT System i.e. Ears, Eyes, Nose and Throat: it could have caused:
    1. Blurred vision
    2. Dry throat
    3. Nasal congestion
    4. Ophthalmic injection or optic pain.
  8. In the Urogenital System: it could have caused:
    1. Breast mass
    2. Menopausal system
    3. Vaginitis


Additional side effects hampering the other functionalities of the body can be summed up as:

  1. To the metabolism and nutrition: It could have caused:
    1. A change in appetite
    2. Hypercholesterolemia
    3. Weight gain
  2. To the psychiatric: It could have caused:
    1. Anxiety
    2. Depression
    3. Mental acuity decreased
  3. To the skin and skin appendages: it could have caused
    1. Abrasion
    2. Nail unit disorder
  4. To the body as a whole: it could have caused:
    1. Abdominal distension or tenderness
    2. Chest pain
    3. Fever
    4. Fluid retention and so on.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the adverse effects the drug could cause, but it includes most of them. Congestive heart failure, herpes, gastric ulcers, hypersensitivity, hyponatremia, aggravated epilepsy , photosensitive reactions and acute renal failures were amongst the most serious side effects which were reported, albeit rarely, being reported in an estimated 0.1% of the patient population taking the drug.