St. Louis attorney Jeffery Lowe filed two lawsuits April 13 on behalf of 13 people who claim their poor health was caused by taking the prescription drug Vioxx. The suit was lodged against drug maker Merck & Co. in Madison County Circuit Court.
Plaintiffs Joyce Morgan, Gloria Klug, Charles Hessling, Dorothy Neff, James Patterson, Hugh, Hoggins, John Allen, Steve, Ellis, Anthony Lewis, Fred Heaton, Michael Neace, Norris Nicolson, and Peggy Maleck--all from Illinois--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.
Vioxx has been the subject of thousands of class action lawsuits across the country since Merck removed it from the market in October, stating its use could pose heart problems.
The two suits seeks a judgment in the plaintiffs' 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 in a fair and reasonable amount to punish and deter Merck and others from engaging in conduct as alleged, and any other relief the court deems just and proper.
Lowe advertises for plaintiffs in newspapers. A recent ad in the Belleville News-Democrat reads:
"Attention Vioxx Users: Don't become part of a class action...We have filed lawsuits against Merck, the manufacturer of Vioxx, for approximately 500 individuals."
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.