Five new suits filed against Vioxx in St. Clair County

Steve Gonzalez Apr. 21, 2005, 9:06am

St. Louis attorney Jeffrey Lowe filed another five lawsuits in St. Clair County Circuit Court on behalf of 23 individuals who claim their medical problems were the result of taking Vioxx over an extended period of time.

In the past two weeks Lowe has hit Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical company that makes Vioxx, with seven suits on behalf of 42 individuals. Two of the lawsuits were filed in Madison County on April 13.

The new Vioxx suits, which also name the pharmacies where plaintiffs bought their Vioxx, seek actual and punitive damages for those claiming they suffered from heart attacks, strokes and other cardio vascular problems.

Plaintiffs claim that at the time Vioxx was manufactured and sold to them, it was defective in design and unreasonably dangerous, subjecting them to risks of heart attack, strokes, and other illnesses which exceeded the benefits of the products when safer products were available.

A spokesman for Merck said that as of March 9, there were at least 1,350 Vioxx-related lawsuits pending nationally and the company expects the number to rise.

U.S. District Judge Patrick Murphy, chief judge for the Southern District of Illinois, has remanded all Madison County Vioxx cases back to the state venue for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Merck had removed the cases to federal court because state courts would have to consider multiple state law.

Once the cases were remanded to Madison County, Merck immediately filed motions to dismiss the complaints.

According to the plaintiffs, Merck failed to effectively warn users and doctors that numerous other methods of pain relievers, including Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Mobic were safer, the plaintiffs' claim. they also allege that Merck's conduct was done with conscious disregard for safety, justifying an award for punitive damages.

Vioxx is the brand name of rofecoxib, one of a class of drugs called prostaglandins which work to reduce inflammation and pain by providing analgesic and anti-inflammatory benefits to people who suffer from arthritis and muscle pain.

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.

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