KUN0055 4 GEN 0412 KUWAIT /KUNA-TOQ4
Legal step for 'Vioxx' case Britons
LONDON, Aug 22 (KUNA) -- A law firm representing Britons alleged to have
suffered from their use of the painkiller 'Vioxx' is preparing to submit
clients' medical records to US doctors, it was announced here Monday.
After a US jury found 'Merck', the drugs' manufacturer, negligent in the
death of a user, lawyers from the firm 'MSB' in Liverpool, northern England,
said thousands of Britons could sue.
The case of a woman Mrs Christine Peckham will be one of the first to be
examined to see if 'Vioxx' made her ill, the lawyers said.
"If a link can be established US attorneys will file the action...", they
Mrs Peckham, from Lancashire, northern England, took the drug to relieve
As a result of her use, she claims to have suffered two strokes, which left
her partially paralysed, visually impaired and epileptic.
Lawyer Gerard Dervan said "We hope to have Christine's case ready for trial
within 12 to 18 months. This is the start of a long fight".
Britain's Legal Service Commission has decided not to fund any actions
against 'Merck' so the case is being fought in the US, where a "no-win no-fee"
system would apply.
'Vioxx', which was withdrawn last September amid safety concerns, was seen
as a breakthrough in pain relief for arthritis sufferers because it did not
have the same side effects as other drugs.
But it was taken off the market after a long-term study found that the risk
of heart attacks and strokes was doubled if patients took the drug for 18
The drug is known to have been taken by more than 20 million people
worldwide before it was withdrawn.
Almost 500,000 Britons have used it.
It has been estimated that 'Vioxx' could have caused 27,785 heart attacks
or deaths since it was approved for use in 1999.
Worldwide, more than 4,200 lawsuits have been filed against 'Merck' over
A jury in Texas last Friday awarded a 253.4 million dollars (141 million
pounds) settlement to the widow of the US man who died suddenly after using
It found 'Merck' negligent in the death of 59-year-old Robert Ernst and the
court also heard claims that 'Merck' had played down safety fears about the
drug for a decade.
But 'Merck' has always maintained that it investigated the safety issues as
soon as they arose.
It said there was no scientific base for the US ruling and it would appeal.
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