Post cardiac arrest, Granite City man goes after Merck & Co.

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 18, 2005, 9:12am

David J. McQuay of Granite City, who suffered from a heart attack and blood clots, filed an 11-count lawsuit against Merck & Co. and Walgreens claiming Vioxx caused his health problems.

McQuay, who is represented by Jeffrey Lowe, Joseph P. Dani and Evan Buxner of Walther Glenn of St. Louis, claims he was unaware of the dangers posed by Vioxx until he developed heart disease and had to undergo a quadruple bypass.

The suit seeks a judgment in McQuay's favor for a fair and just amount of actual damages in an amount to be proved at trial, costs of the suit, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest and punitive damages.

Merck pulled Vioxx on Sept. 30 after a study showed it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke if taken for more than 18 months. Since then it has been the target of hundreds of consumer fraud class action lawsuits across the country. There are three such pending cases in Madison County Circuit Court.

McQuay's lawsuit naming Vioxx is the first one in Madison County that claims actual damages.

In his suit, McQuay claims that at the time Vioxx was manufactured and sold to him, it was defective in design and unreasonably dangerous, subjecting him to risks of heart attack, strokes, and other illnesses which exceeded the benefits of the products when safer products were available.

Vioxx was primarily prescribed to reduce pain from inflammation, however, the defendants failed to conduct sufficient research in manufacturing and marketing Vioxx to determine the severity of the potential side effects such as heart attack and stroke, according to the complaint.

McQuay also claims Merck failed to perform adequate testing prior to marketing Vioxx, and such testing would have shown that Vioxx possessed serious life threatening side effects with respect to which full and proper warnings accurately and fully reflecting symptoms, type of illness, scope and severity should have been given with respect to the use of Vioxx.

Merck failed to effectivly warn users and doctors that numerous other methods of pain relievers, including Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Mobic were safer, McQuay claims. He also alleges that Merck's conduct was done with conscious disregard for safety, justifing an award for punitive damages.

His prescription for Vioxx, sold by Walgreens, was defective and dangerous and the warnings accompanying the drug did not reflect the side effects, according to the complaint.

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.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

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