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Popular Arthritis Medication Proven to be Dangerous. Lawsuit Filed in Brazoria County Against Two Pharmaceutical Companies.

Howry, Breen & Herman, LLP

A message was sent to pharmaceutical giants Merck and Co. and Pfizer Pharmacia Corporation from the Brazoria County Courthouse where a lawsuit was filed on behalf of an otherwise healthy Pennsylvania woman who had been taking the popular arthritis medications Vioxx and Celebrex and unexpectedly suffered a fatal heart attack. Also listed in the lawsuit as a defendant, along with Merck and Pfizer Pharmacia, is one of the leading medical research facilities that tested Vioxx on humans – R/D Clinical Research, Inc. in Angleton, Texas.

The medications Celebrex and Vioxx are very similar in that they are both classified as Cox-2 inhibitors, which fight inflammation without causing ulcers that older drugs, like ibuprofen, might. Both drugs saturated the market beginning in 1999 and have been multibillion-dollar blockbusters ever since. More than 100 million prescriptions were written for Vioxx and Celebrex in a one-year period ending July 12, 2000. That same year, in 2000, concerning data was published in the New England Journal of Medicine regarding potential serious cardiac side effects caused by taking Celebrex and Vioxx. In 2001, the FDA mandated that Merck include warnings on the drug label as it became apparent that Vioxx had caused unexpected cardiovascular events among people who had no serious cardiac risk factors. Only recently were warning labels added to the medication labels.

“If you consider how many people have taken Vioxx in good faith from the time it became available on the market to the time they finally included the warning labels, the number is in the hundreds of millions. There are many known people like our client whose lives have been forever altered or ended because they had a devastating heart attack or stroke without any medical history of cardiac risk factors,” explains Randy Howry, lawyer and partner of Herman, Howry, Breen, LLP, the Austin-based law firm that filed the lawsuit.

Because of the integral role of R/D Clinical Research maintained in the drug testing of Vioxx, it was decided that the lawsuit would most appropriately be filed in the city of their headquarters, Angleton, Texas, and the county seat of Brazoria County.

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