Calgarians join Vioxx
Two Calgary-based law
firms have launched a provincewide class action suit against the pharmaceutical
company that recently pulled one of its drugs from the shelves after tests
showed it increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes in longtime users.
Docken & Company
on Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. to pay damages to Vioxx victims for pain and
suffering, as well as lost income and medical expenses.
The suit covers any
Albertans prescribed the medication who then allegedly sustained injuries to
their cardiovascular system -- from heart attacks to congestive heart
affects the cardiovascular system that limits the person's ability in any
way, those kinds of individuals would qualify," said lawyer Vaughn
Merck put out a
worldwide recall recently on the popular painkiller and arthritis drug after
reports and studies found patients faced a significantly higher risk of heart
attack, stroke and blood clots.
Other class action
suits have already been set up in Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Saskatchewan. The
Toronto-based law firm of Rochon Genova has launched a national suit.
Jim Venables, a
49-year-old school bus driver and instructor, has joined the national suit
He suffered a heart
attack in July 2000 -- just five months after he began taking Vioxx for his
arthritis -- and hasn't been able to work since.
He didn't know of the
drug's risks until he heard about the voluntary recall at the end of
September. He was taking the drug at the time.
Venables is angry that
U.S. residents were warned by the Food and Drug Administration about
potential complications related to the painkiller and arthritis medication,
but Canadians were left in the dark.
"I guess they
figure we're not as important," he said. "Maybe there's more of us
Marshall said Canadians
could have been saved from a lot of suffering if they had known about the
"This was a
situation where a warning could have happened a lot sooner," he said.
So far, less than a
dozen clients have signed on under the Alberta class action suit, but
Marshall anticipates hundreds will have signed up by next week.
Irene Boux has been
listed as the representative plaintiff for the suit. The claim indicates she
is hospitalized due to complications related to the drug.
The claim outlines that
Boux began taking Vioxx in 1999 and didn't stop until September 2004. She has
been diagnosed with an enlarged heart that doesn't pump enough blood and
oxygen through her veins.
Boux has to take
medications for her condition and "will incur expenses for those
medications and hospitalization for the duration of her life," read the
While the statement of
claim was filed Friday, Marshall said it could be some time before Merck
statements of defence start to arrive a number of months after the claim has
been filed," he said.
Vioxx was first
introduced in Canada five years ago and it is estimated that more than
700,000 Canadians have taken the drug. It was the second best-selling painkiller
in the world with sales in excess of $2.5 billion.
Calgary Herald 2004
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