September 29, 2001-18 Utahns sue pharmaceutical giant over Vioxx

Eighteen Utahns have filed a personal injury lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., alleging the company misrepresented the risks associated with the prescription drug Vioxx.

The people claim in a lawsuit filed in 3rd District Court Friday they suffered ailments ranging from strokes to heart attacks to death after taking Vioxx. Three of the plaintiffs are heirs of a Utah woman who suffered fatal heart problems. "Defendant misrepresented that Vioxx was a safe and effective way to relieve osteoarthritis, management of acute pain in adults, and treatment of menstrual pain, when in fact the drug causes serious medical problems such as an increased risk of cardiovascular events, including strokes, heart attacks and death," the lawsuit states.

Stephen G. Morgan, the attorney representing the 18 people, said he wasn't aware of any other Vioxx-related lawsuits filed against Merck in Utah. However, he said his firm is working with a California firm that has filed an individual and class-action suit against the company. That firm has associations with similar actions in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin, Morgan said.

The Utah plaintiffs responded to an advertisement placed in local newspapers earlier this month, Morgan said. They are seeking "reasonable damages."

The lawsuit came on the heels of a government order handed down this week, compelling Merck to stop advertisements and promotions aimed at getting doctors to prescribe Vioxx. The FDA said the promotions minimize potential safety risks.

However, Merck has argued that Vioxx falsely looked risky because naproxen -- another painkiller with which Vioxx has been compared -- thins the blood much like aspirin does and thus protected against heart attacks. It aired that view in the recent promotions that state, "Vioxx is a wonderful, effective" painkiller but not one that has a blood-thinning side benefit.

"In fact, the situation is not at all clear," the FDA responded, saying no studies prove naproxen thins blood enough to explain the discrepancy.

"The company continues to stand behind the overall safety and cardiovascular safety of Vioxx," said Merck spokeswoman Jan Weiner.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of taking any drug or supplement, call Law Offices of Robert Dourian now at 800-790-8856 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to review your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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