U.S. healthcare industry reaction to the withdrawal of Vioxx from the world-wide market

NDCHealth has announced U.S. healthcare industry reaction to the Sept. 30 announcement by Merck & Co. that it was withdrawing its anti-arthritic medication Vioxx from the world-wide market.

According to data from NDCHealth's longitudinal healthcare claims database, the Intelligent Health Repository (IHR), within 24 hours of Merck's announcement on Sept. 30, approximately 2.4% of the 1.2 million Vioxx prescription holders in the U.S. had received new prescriptions for alternative therapies. Of those active prescriptions, 58% had moved to other drugs within the COX-2 Inhibitor therapeutic class (Pfizer's Celebrex and Bextra), while 33% received a prescription for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), such as naproxen. Prescription rejection rates by insurance payers for Vioxx remained relatively unchanged on Sept. 30 at about 25%, while prescription reversals increased to 14% from an average of 6%.

NDCHealth's IHR database meets all information protection requirements set forth by HIPAA, thus protecting privacy.

According to DirectRx, NDCHealth's information tool that tracks daily projected dispensed prescription data, the daily average total (new and refill) of Vioxx prescriptions dispensed through U.S. retail pharmacies declined 92% for the three days Sept. 30 through October 2, as compared to the daily average total dispensed the preceding seven days. Among competitive Cox-2 products, prescriptions for Pfizer's Celebrex and Bextra increased 78%, while prescription strength NSAID dispense rates increased 17% for the same three-day time period.

The NDCHealth IHR database also indicates that 32% of current U.S. Vioxx prescription holders have taken the drug for more than 18 months, the timeframe in which Merck cited that individuals would be at risk for increased cardiovascular events. Twenty-five percent of current Vioxx prescription holders have taken the drug between 12-18 months, and 43% less than 12 months.

In a related market reaction, NDCHealth supported its U.S. retail pharmacy customer response to the Vioxx withdrawal by developing and implementing a custom electronic message to alert retail-environment pharmacists at their in-store computer terminals as they processed Vioxx prescription claims. On Sept. 30, more than 17,078 pharmacy locations had signed up for this message service resulting in 2,516 Vioxx prescription rejections. On Oct. 1, the alert message resulted in 1,936 prescription rejections with 608 prescriptions rejected on Oct. 2.

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