LEXINGTON, Ky., Oct. 25 2004 LAWFUEL – Law, legal, attorney, law firm, class action news The Lexington-based law firm of
Getty & Mayo today announced that it has filed one of the nation’s first class
action lawsuits against Merck, the manufacturer of the recently recalled
arthritis drug, Vioxx. The suit alleges that Merck deceived its customers by
promoting Vioxx in its advertising as a safe and reliable analgesic, when it
knew there were significant safety risks associated with the use of the drug.
Studies dating back to 2001 have confirmed that Vioxx use significantly
increases the risk for developing blood clots, experiencing kidney failure,
heart attacks and strokes. In 2002, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA)
compelled Merck to alter its labeling to indicate these significant side
effects. While agreeing to add a warning to its Vioxx labeling, Merck
declined to pull Vioxx from distribution at that time, and continued to
aggressively market and advertise the drug as a safe and effective means for
the reduction of the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.
“In essence, you have a company that knew of significant risks and yet
failed to clearly and effectively warn physicians and consumers,” stated Getty
& Mayo’s founder and partner Richard Getty. “Adding some vague language to
the labeling does not constitute adequate disclosure in our opinion,
especially when Merck continued to invest over $100 million per year in
advertising touting the benefits and safety of Vioxx. You cannot claim to
have the best interest of patients in mind when you downplay important health
information while bombarding people with claims about a drug’s efficacy,” he
Vioxx was pulled from the market by Merck voluntarily on September 30,
2004. The move was precipitated by a study conducted by Merck itself that
showed people who used Vioxx had at least twice the risk of heart attack or
stroke as those who did not use the drug. Following the withdrawal, the FDA
issued a Public Health Advisory, and Merck issued a press release both
encouraging Vioxx users to consult with a physician regarding the
discontinuance of the use of Vioxx and alternative therapies.
“Not only did these people put themselves at risk, they also invested
their money in a dangerous drug and in doctor visits,” noted Mason Miller, an
attorney with Getty & Mayo. “We are not seeking compensation for personal
injury in this suit. However, we are asking that Merck repay their patients
for what they spent on Vioxx and on visits to their doctors. We believe that
Merck defrauded the public and violated the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act.
They should be held accountable for their decision to put sales ahead of
safety,” Miller said.
According to Mr. Getty, individuals who have used Vioxx, and therefore may
have claims against Merck, may learn more about the lawsuit by calling Getty &
Getty & Mayo is a specialty law firm located in Lexington, Kentucky that
practices exclusively in the area of complex litigation. In the past five
years alone, Getty & Mayo has represented both plaintiffs and defendants from
California to New York, and during that time has won jury verdicts well in
excess of $50 million. Getty & Mayo may be contacted at (859) 250-1900.
Getty & Mayo, PLLC