Sat, October 9, 2004

Lawsuits filed over arthritis drug


TORONTO -- Law firms in Toronto, Winnipeg and Calgary filed more class-action lawsuits yesterday against Merck and Co. Inc., the makers of the arthritis drug Vioxx . Several lawsuits have been filed in Canada since the drug was withdrawn by Merck on Sept. 30 after studies found it may increase heart attack and stroke risk.

Other class actions have been filed in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. None of the suits has yet been certified by a judge, which must happen before they can proceed.

On Friday, a suit was filed by Rochon Genova LLP on behalf of two Vioxx users, Mary Jane McNicholl of Toronto and James Venables of Calgary.

Both sustained massive heart attacks that required surgery after using the drug, their lawyers said in a release.

The suit alleges the drug company knew about dangers associated with Vioxx as early as 2000, but continued to distribute it.