Vioxx, an arthritis drug, became very popular when it was released in 1999, but five years later, the drug was taken off the market because of evidence that it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. A method to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future has been proposed, as reported by The New York Times. The system would pool data as it was collected from clinical trials in order to gain a better perspective on the big picture. It would essentially be a database that would be updated in almost real-time.
The authors of the study argue that the makers of Vioxx could have recognized the increased heart attack and stroke risk if they had used a similar method. From their research, they believe the company could have been aware of the risks as early as 2002. Since the Vioxx incident, the Food and Drug Administration has increased its standards, but some argue that they still do not have enough power. The database idea could be a way to increase the safety of our drugs, but some argue such a large database would be too expensive to maintain. However, this is our health and quality of life, so isn’t it worth the cost?