CHARLESTON - Twelve users of the prescription drug Bextra are suing its makers over side effects, which include a higher risk of heart attack and are each seeking several million dollars.

The twelve suits were filed Oct. 18 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Pfizer Inc., G.D. Searle and Pharmacia Corp.

Bextra was pulled from the market last year after the Food and Drug Administration ordered it. The drug was designed to reduce inflammation and pain caused by arthritis and menstruation.

However, several studies showed that it put users in danger of suffering other more serious ailments. Frances Young, the first in the list of plaintiffs, suffered a heart attack on Feb. 15, 2004.

His complaint, like the others, requests $10 million for each of six causes of action, as well as $20 million for punitive damages.

"Defendants made the misrepresentations and/or actively concealed information concerning the safety and efficacy of Bextra in its labeling, advertising, product inserts, promotional materials or other marketing efforts," the complaints say.

Attorney Cindy Kiblinger of James Humphreys and Associates filed the lawsuits.

Other plaintiffs are: Ernestine and Larry Browning; Thomas and Toni Knisely; Beverly and Roger Sattler; Ramonia Pannell; Francis Stump; James and Cheri Ray; Sidney and Debra Rayburn; Barbara Miller; Fred and Shirley Means; Connie and Bobby Farmer; and Willis and Bertina Damron.

Several of the users' spouses are making claims for loss of consortium.

According to the complaints, the drug was approved in November 2001, though three years later the manufacturers needed to add a warning label to acknowledge an increased risk of heart attack. Dr. Garrett Fitzgerald of the University of Pennsylvania, says the suit, claimed the drug was more dangerous than Vioxx, which also is creating its own place in litigation history.

The defendants are charged with negligence, products liability, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

Similar cases have been filed all over the country since Bextra was taken off the market in a move the FDA said would "protect and advance the health of the millions of Americans who take these drugs every day."

Another Pfizer drug, Celebrex, includes a strict health warning on its packaging.

Kanawha Circuit Court case numbers 06-C-2175-2186

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