Fayetteville resident Laurence Madden filed suit in St. Clair County Circuit Court June 27 against Merck & Co. of New Jersey and 10 Merck employees seeking at least $250,000 in damages.

Madden claims he was prescribed Vioxx on Feb. 6, 2001, by James Althoff, M.D. in Freeburg, and on March 1, 2001, he suddenly and unexpectedly suffered a heart attack.

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 from the market on Sept. 30, 2004, 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 thousands of lawsuits across the country.

Madden claims Vioxx’s cox-2 enzyme causes platelet aggregation, which leads to thrombotic events such as heart attacks and strokes making the drug unreasonably dangerous.

According to Madden, any benefit Vioxx may have had over traditional NSAIDs is outweighed by the increase of heart attacks and strokes.

Madden also claims at no time did Vioxx’s warning label warn of these risks, making the warning label inadequate as it failed to specify the risks of taking the drug.

“Merck knew of the unreasonably dangerous condition of its product and failed to act to reduce the risk,” the complaint states.

Madden also claims that the 10 Merck employees named as John Does, intentionally concealed the dangers of the drug from the Food and Drug Administration during the approval process, from doctors through its marketing, and the public through direct advertising in order to increase sales of the drug.

Madden is represented by David Alan Windham, Jr. of Smith, Reeves, & Yarborough of Jackson, Miss.

05 L 373 (20th Circuit)

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