Vioxx lawsuits have been flooding the courtrooms
since New Jersey-based Merck and Company conducted a voluntary
withdrawal of the prescription painkiller from the market on September
30, 2004. In Texas, the filing deadline for Vioxx lawsuits was
September 30, 2006.
Some other states share the Texas deadline
while other have their own statute of limitations. So, if you
have been contemplating a Vioxx lawsuit, then time is of the essence
for filing in most states.
Even if you think the deadline has passed it is important to
check with a personal injury lawyer versed in product
liability in your state to make sure of the specific laws
Vioxx was pulled from the market when its side effects were linked
to heart attacks, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism
and other related cardiovascular injuries. Vioxx (rofecoxib) is
part of a class of COX 2 selective NSAIDs that have been linked
to severe cardiovascular side effects by the APPROVe trials, the
Food & Drug Administration and Health Canada. Vioxx was once
prescribed to relieve acute pain in adults, arthritis and painful
menstrual cycles. An off-spring of the Vioxx lawsuits has been
a flurry of Bextra lawsuits
and Celebrex lawsuits since
each drug is in the same Cox 2 class.
In August 2005, there were 7,500 Vioxx lawsuits filed at that
time. By August 2006, that number climbed to 140,000 cases. With
deadlines for filing looming in many states, the number of Vioxx
lawsuits is sure to climb drastically.
On August 20, 2005 a Texas jury found Merck and Company liable
in the Vioxx lawsuit for $253.4 million for a case brought by
the widow of 59-year-old triathlete, Robert Ernst. The verdict
called for $24.4 million in
compensatory damages and $229 million in punitive
damages. The jury deliberated less than 11 hours before coming
to the verdict. Ernst was an apparently healthy produce manager
for Wal-Mart, who took Vioxx for 8-months before dying of heart
arrhythmia, according to the Texas coroner. This case was considered
one of the weaker Vioxx lawsuits on the docket since the drug
was not directly linked to heart arrhythmia.
The Ernst trial brought out several facts unfavorable to Merck.
First was a 1997 email from one of the Merck scientists warning
of the cardiovascular risks of Vioxx. Second, was a "Dear
Doctor" letter in 2001, grossly understating the incidents
of cardiovascular problems to physicians who were prescribing
Vioxx. Training documents for the sales force were also presented
telling the employees to play "dodgeball" with the doctors
who asked about the cardiovascular side effects of Vioxx.
When Merck finally did start telling the doctors about the dangerous
side effects of Vioxx, they failed to inform patients by neglecting
to add a warning to the medication's label. In August 2006, the
New England Journal of Medicine announced that Merck failed to
report important cardiovascular risks in their Vigor clinical
trials. Because of this announcement an earlier Vioxx lawsuit
that was settled in favor of Merck was vacated by the judge in
the case. In April 2006, a jury awarded 77-year-old John McDarby
$4.5 million in compensatory damages and $9 million in punitive
damages because Merck failed to warn consumers of the perilous
side effects of Vioxx.
Before Vioxx was pulled from the shelves, over 84 million people
had taken the drug with Merck spending over $100 million per year
in promoting the use of Vioxx. Merck has only set aside $675 million
to pay for attorneys and legal defense costs for the slew of Vioxx
lawsuits that will bog down the company for years to come.
If you or a loved one has been injured by using Vioxx, then contact
a personal injury lawyer as soon as
possible to discuss the case. It may or may not be too late to
file, so check out the statute of limitations for a Vioxx lawsuit
in your state with a personal injury attorney who specializes
in pharmaceutical product liability cases.