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Pharr Woman Sues Vioxx Makers

Lawsuit alleges medicine resulted in heart attack

Oct 7, 2004 | Harlingen Valley Morning Star Click here for Free Vioxx Lawsuit Case Evaluation

A lawsuit has been filed against the makers of Vioxx, and more are expected to follow. Olga Sanchez of Pharr is claiming that a July 2001 heart attack resulted from her using Vioxx for the preceding seven months.

Vioxx was pulled off shelves worldwide when Merck & Co. Inc., the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company, announced last week that the arthritis and acute pain medication increases risks for heart attacks and strokes.

Sanchez’s lawsuit was filed Tuesday afternoon in Judge Noe Gonzalez’s 370th state District Court at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg. Garcia said his office is screening five more people who used Vioxx to see if they have legitimate claims against the pharmaceutical company.

This drug was marketed like a super aspirin," said the attroney representing Sanchez, referring to the medicine’s popularity. More than 84 million people across the world have taken it since it was introduced in 1999, according to analysts cited by MSNBC news service.

Vioxx is the 16th most used drug in the United States and generated $2.5 billion in sales in 2003.

The lawsuit has few details about Sanchez’s situation other than one paragraph that indicates she was prescribed Vioxx for arthritic pain and then experienced heart and chest pain which led to emergency care and an open heart surgery, according to the plaintiff’s original petition.

"You could probably expect mass litigation with that," said Dana Leidig, spokeswoman for the Texas Medical Liability Trust, the largest medical malpractice insurer in Texas.

Leidig said the legal climate may be similar to what happened when the Federal Drug Administration issued a warning in 1997 about heart problems stemming from the combining the weight-loss drugs Phentermine and fenfluamine — commonly known as Phen-Fen. Lawsuits were filed across the country against makers of the drug.

Vioxx was not being sold Wednesday in several pharmacies near Reynosa’s main plaza and close to the Hidalgo-Pharr International Bridge.

After the recall came out, pharmacists at the surveyed stores said they had stopped selling the product.

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