Earl Gori of Madison County and Michael Elward of Wabash County, Indiana are the newest members of a growing class of litigants seeking damages from Merck & Co. over the company's marketing of the recently recalled pain reliever, Vioxx.

Represented by Christopher Byron and Brian Kalb of Edwardsville, the plaintiffs filed the class action complaint Nov. 10. Each class plaintiff seeks up to $75,000.

Gori and Elward allege that Merck’s misrepresentations and concealment of the true extent of health hazards of Vioxx allowed them to charge prices for Vioxx that were far in excess of the fair market value.

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.

Merck pulled Vioxx on Sept. 30 after a study confirmed that it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke if taken for more than 18 months. Within days, the first of many class action lawsuits were filed across the country against Merck & Co.

On behalf of his 75-year-old mother, Patricia Bilbrey, of Glen Carbon, Edwardsville plaintiff's attorney Mike Bilbrey filed a class action complaint against Merck Oct. 5.

Gori and Elward's class action case involves all people who purchased Vioxx during or after 1999 for personal, family, or household purposes who are residents of Illinois or Indiana.

According to the complaint, Gori purchased Vioxx July through September in Staunton without knowledge of the facts regarding the health risks of Vioxx concealed by Merck.

The complaint also states that Elward purchased Vioxx during December 2000 through May 2002, in Wabash County, Ind.

They claim that because of Merck’s failure to disclose the health risks of Vioxx, they were both unable to discover the acts until Merck withdrew the products from the market in September.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge George Moran.

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