Insider's edge for Vioxx plaintiff?

Steve Gonzalez Oct. 11, 2004, 10:07am

Madison County employee Myrna Amisch's class action suit against Merck wasn't the first, but it is on the cutting edge of recent filings against the pharmaceutical.

Five days after the drug company pulled Vioxx from the market for safety reason, Amisch of Granite City, was third in line to file in a county that also employs her.

"It's not so much for the money," Amisch said. "But to stop the company from doing this."

She decided to stop taking the drug in July because of swelling in her ankles. A stress test Amisch underwent Monday showed no problems.

"I was having shortness of breath," Amisch said. "And I knew that (Vioxx) could have had something to do with it."

Represented by the Edwardsville firm Goldenberg, Miller, Heller & Antognoli, Amisch claims in the suit filed Oct. 5, that the drug maker deceived consumers that Vioxx was a superior product over others on the market and that it hid the drug's dangerous side effects.

Amisch is a project specialist in the county's Community Development building.

"The plaintiff would not have purchased Vioxx had they known of the increased risks of hypertension, stroke and/or myocardial infarcts," Amisch's complaint states.

The suit seeks to recover no more than $75,000 minus costs and interest.

Vioxx was introduced in the United States in 1999. Vioxx is a Cyclo-Oxygenase-2 (cox2) inhibitor and was used to treat arthritis and is in the class of drugs called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory). Other NSAID drugs include Ibuprofen, Celebrex and Aleve.

In order to obtain a consumer market share of Vioxx, Merck requested that the FDA allow Merck to use a fast track, six-month approval process for scientific testing. The FDA allowed the request for the shortened approval process.

Merck pulled Vioxx from the market Sept. 30. Since then lawsuits have been filed in at least 10 states and a class action suit has also been filed in South Burlington, Vt. in federal court.

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