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Hagens Berman Release: Arizona Consumer Files First Class Action Against Vioxx Manufacturer Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)


10/19/2005 5:12:26 PM

PHOENIX, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- A Phoenix resident today filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Merck & Company , manufacturers of Vioxx, a popular pain-relief drug recently withdrawn from the market after disclosures that the drug increased the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The suit, filed by Edward W. Wright in Arizona Superior Court through Rob Carey and the Hagens Berman law firm, is the first statewide class action. Once certified by the court, the suit will represent any Arizona resident who purchased Vioxx over the past four years.

According to the complaint, consumers of Vioxx would have not have purchased the drug if the company fully disclosed the associated risks.

"Consumers all across Arizona purchased Vioxx, paying more than $2 a pill, about one hundred times the cost of regular aspirin," said Carey, a former Arizona chief deputy attorney general. "We believe that in addition to being held responsible for the enormous health implications, the makers of Vioxx owe consumers a financial obligation to return the huge profits they made in selling such a horribly flawed drug." Carey currently represents dozens of individuals who took Vioxx and are evaluating their claims against Merck for personal injuries.

The lawsuit alleges that Merck violated Arizona's consumer fraud act and unjustly profited from its conduct.

According to the complaint, internal e-mails show Merck executives knew that Vioxx had safety risks, noting in one correspondence that undisclosed risks were "clearly there." In spite of these concerns, Merck launched a massive direct-to-consumer campaign, spending more than $161 million in 2000 alone. That campaign propelled sales to $2 billion per year, the suit states.

On September 30, 2004, after independent studies indicating an increased risk of heart attack and stroke for patients using the drug became well- publicized, Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market.

"We intend to prove that Merck executives intentionally and knowingly defrauded Arizona consumers by touting the benefits of this expensive drug, while withholding critical information about its shortcomings," Carey said. "Had consumers been given all the information we believe Merck possessed about the safety of Vioxx, consumers would have chosen other, safer, less costly alternatives."

Wright purchased Vioxx, unaware of the health risks associated with the drug, which the complaint claims Merck withheld. After taking the medication, Wright suffered a heart attack.

For more information about the suit including a copy of the complaint, visit http://www.hagens-berman.com/.

About Hagens Berman

Hagens Berman is a law firm with offices in Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Managing partner Steve Berman was recently named co-lead counsel in litigation to recover losses from Enron employees' retirement funds; Berman is a nationally recognized expert in class-action litigation. Berman represented Washington, Idaho and 12 other states in lawsuits against the tobacco industry that resulted in the largest settlement in the history of litigation. Berman also served as counsel in several other high-profile cases including the Washington Public Power Supply litigation, which resulted in a settlement of more than $850 million, and the proposed $92.5 million settlement of The Boeing Company litigation. Other notable cases include litigation involving the Exxon Valdez oil spill; Louisiana Pacific Siding; Morrison Knudsen; Piper Jaffrey; Nordstrom; Boston Chicken; and Noah's Bagels.

CONTACTS: Rob Carey (602) 840-5900 Mark Firmani (206) 443-9357 Hagens Berman Firmani & Associates rcarey@hagens-berman.commark@firmani.com

Web site:

Hagens Berman

CONTACT: Rob Carey of Hagens Berman, +1-602-840-5900,rcarey@hagens-berman.com; or Mark Firmani of Firmani & Associates,+1-206-443-9357, mark@firmani.com


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