Bextra suit filed in federal court

By Steve Gonzalez | Oct 5, 2005

Jeffrey Lowe

St. Louis Attorney Jeffrey Lowe filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis on behalf of seven people seeking damages for personal injuries after taking the prescription pain reliever, Bextra.

The plaintiffs are:

  • Juanita Allen of Kentucky, who claims she suffered a stroke;
  • Eddean Blackwood of Tennessee, who claims she suffered a heart attack;
  • Rosie Benson of Alabama, who claims she suffered a stroke;
  • Erters Maxie of Alabama, who claims she suffered cardiovascular problems;
  • Charles Jordan of Alabama, who claims he suffered a heart attack;
  • Darla Pennington of Tennessee, who claims her father, Earl Ray Ayres, died after suffering a heart attack from a blood clot; and
  • Hsiao-Hua Gorman of Tennessee, who claims her husband, Larry Gorman, suffered a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems which led to his death.

    Bextra, manufactured by Pfizer, is a Cox-2 inhibitor and was approved by the FDA on Nov. 16, 2001 for the relief of symptoms of osteoarthritis and adult rheumatoid arthritis.

    On April 7, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that Pfizer suspend sales of Bextra in the U.S.

    The plaintiffs, who filed suit Sept. 29, are seeking damages from defendants Pfizer, Pharmacia, Monsanto and Searle.

    According to the complaint, at the time Bextra was sold to the plaintiffs it was defective in design and unreasonably dangerous, subjecting users to risks of heart attacks, strokes, and other illnesses which exceeded the benefits of the product when safer products where available.

    The plaintiffs claim that the drug did not come with proper and warnings regarding adverse side effects associated with its use and the comparative severity and duration of the side effects.

    “Bextra was an unreasonably dangerous, defective product which posed unacceptable risks to human health when put to use,” the complaint states.

    The plaintiffs also claim that the defendants failed to perform adequate testing and study of Bextra prior to marketing it or ignored existing data which would have allegedly shown Bextra possessed serious life threatening side effects.

    “The defendants also failed to effectively warn users and physicians that numerous other methods of safer pain relievers were available,” the complaint states.

    “Pfizer, Pharmacia, Monsanto, and Searle failed to exercise the ordinary care that a careful and prudent drug manufacturer would exercise in the same or similar circumstances,” the complaint states.

    The plaintiffs claim they are entitled to recover all damages caused by the defective product including damages for pain, suffering, loss of the capacity to enjoy life and past and future wages.

    According to the complaint, “The defendants’ actually knew of the defective nature of their product, yet continued to design, manufacture, market, distribute and sell their product to maximize sales and profits at the expense of the general public’s health and safety in conscious disregard of the foreseeable harm caused by Bextra.”

    “The defendants' conduct exhibits such an entire want of care as to establish that their actions were a result of fraud, ill will, recklessness, gross negligence or willful and intentional disregard to the plaintiffs' individual rights, and hence punitive damages are appropriate.”

    Lowe will have Carey and Danis of St. Louis, Charles Lampin of St. Peters, Evan Schaeffer and Andrea Lamere of Godfrey and Evan Buxner of Walther Glenn in St. Louis as co-counsel.

    The case was originally assigned to U.S. District Judge David Herndon, however he recused himself and the case was reassigned to Judge William Stiehl.


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