John Smith of St. Clair County filed suit against Merck & Co. June 24 in St. Clair County seeking damages for personal injuries he sustained as a result of taking Vioxx.

Smith claims he suffered several heart attacks beginning in April 2004 and believes the use of Vioxx were the cause.

Vioxx, which was removed from the drug market nearly nine months ago because a study (VIGOR) indicated it could cause cardiac problems, is the brand name of rofecoxib, a cox-2 inhibitor and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). Other similar prescription NSAIDs include Bextra and Celebrex. Over-the-counter drugs include Advil and Motrin.

Smith also named Caseyville Pharmacy as a defendant claiming it failed to warn him of the side effects of Vioxx, and that the drug carried a risk of death or permanent disabilities.

The nature of his injuries and the relationship to his Vioxx use were inherently undiscoverable and Smith claims the discovery rule should be applied to toll the running of the statute of limitations.

According to Smith, Merck failed to design a safe product, negligently placed Vioxx into the market, failed to remove Vioxx from the market, failed to fund and conduct medical and scientific studies to determine the overall safety of Vioxx, and failed to conduct post-market surveillance to determine the overall safety of Vioxx.

Smith also claims that Merck failed to disclose the results of its post-marketing studies to advise people of the risks, failed to investigate the adverse events reports relating to Vioxx, and failed to take any reasonable precautions or exercise reasonable care to warn him of the potential risks and serious thrombotic and cardiovascular side effects.

“Merck breached its duty of reasonable care to Smith and was negligent, without regard to whether the acts were intentional, knowing, malicious, or reckless,” the complaint states.

The suit also alleges that Merck committed common law fraud when it made representations the pharmaceutical knew was false, and the representations were made by Merck with the intent to deceive Smith and his doctor so Vioxx would be prescribed.

Smith is seeking:

  • General damages in excess of $50,000

  • Compensatory damages, including past, present, and future physical impairment, and medical care expenses;

  • Consequential damages;

  • Costs including, but not limited to, discretionary court costs of this cause, and costs available under the law, as well as expert fees and attorney fees and expenses; and

  • Other relief the court deems just and proper.

    Smith is represented by Robert Rowland and Aaron Dickey of Goldenberg, Miller, Heller and Antognoli of Edwardsville.

    05 L 372 (20th Circuit)

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