Gateway and Pfizer sued for $1.1 million

By Steve Gonzalez | Mar 15, 2006

Gateway Regional Medical Center in Granite City

A Madison County plaintiff is using a novel approach for recovering $1.1 million in a 21-count medical malpractice, wrongful death and product liability lawsuit against Pfizer and Gateway Regional Medical Center.

Jerry Coonrod claims that when his mother suffered a heart attack at the Granite City hospital, she was awaiting treatment for symptoms of a heart attack, which resulted from taking the prescription pain reliever Bextra.

Betty Coonrod was admitted to Gateway on March 12, 2004, and died two days later at another hospital where she had been transferred.

The complaint alleges the hospital failed to seek, in a timely fashion, consultation or testing with predictive value in order to rule out a heart attack, failed to timely transfer and provide means of transport to a more qualified facility for treatment and otherwise failed to provide adequate medical care, personal care, maintenance and treatment.

Coonrod claims his mother was not properly treated while at Gateway and as a result of its alleged negligence, she was transferred to DePaul Hospital where she ultimately died on March 14, 2004.

He also is seeking damages from Pfizer for personal injuries, death and economic damages suffered by his mother as a result of her taking Bextra.

According to the complaint, Betty received a prescription for Bextra in October 2002 and took the medication until her heart attack.

Bextra is a Cox-2 inhibitor and was approved by the FDA on Nov. 16, 2001, for the relief of symptoms of osteoarthritis and other maladies.

On April 7, 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that Pfizer suspend sales of Bextra in the U.S.

Coonrod claims at the time Bextra was manufactured and sold to his mother is was defective in design and unreasonably dangerous subjecting users to risks of strokes, heart attacks and other illnesses which exceeded the benefits of the product and for which other safer products were available.

"Had Pfizer properly disclosed the risks associated with using Bextra, Betty would not have taken it for the treatment of pain," the complaint states.

Coonrod also claims that the Bextra sold by Pfizer was unaccompanied by proper and adequate warnings regarding all adverse side effects associated with its use and the comparative severity and duration of the adverse effects.

"The warnings given by Pfizer did not accurately reflect the symptoms, type, scope, or severity of the side effects," the complaint states.

He also claims that Pfizer failed to perform adequate testing prior to marketing Bextra and is they would have tested it properly testing would have shown that Bextra possessed serious life threatening side effects.

According to Coonrod, Pfizer had actual knowledge of cardiothrombotic effect of Bextra, but despite having that knowledge they actively concealed and omitted to disclose those effects when marketing Bextra to doctors, health care providers and the general public through direct advertisements.

"Pfizer's failure to disclose material facts constituted fraudulent concealment," the complaint states.

Coonrod claims that Pfizer's selling Bextra without adequate warnings caused his mother's death.

"Pfizer's conduct was done with conscious disregard for safety," the complaint states.

Coonrod claims that his mother incurred great conscious pain and suffering prior to her death.

Represented by Robert Rowland, Keith Short, and Aaron Dickey of Edwardsville, Coonrod also is seeking damages for loss of consortium claiming he has suffered the loss of support and services of his mother, plus all costs of the suit.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian.

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