CHARLESTON - A Huntington woman has joined the ranks of those suing Merck over its manufacture and distribution of the drug Vioxx, which was pulled off the market in 2004.
Dessie Nichols filed her suit Oct. 20 in Kanawha Circuit Court, alleging that the drug caused her pulmonary embolism (blockage of an artery in the lungs) on Dec. 31, 2002.
A Multi-District Litigation lawsuit in Louisiana has centralized the numerous cases against Merck and Co. Last August, a Texas jury awarded a woman $253 million after it found Merck was liable for the death of her husband.
Punitive damages accounted for $229 million of the award.
Nichols, 79, is represented by Cindy Kiblinger of James Humphreys and Associates in Charleston and charges Merck with negligence, products liability, fraud, breach of express and implied warranties, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment and makes a claim for punitive damages.
"Despite the efforts of numerous healthcare professionals, Merck managed to hide the fact that Vioxx significantly increased the risk of thromboembolic adverse events, such as heart attacks and strokes, until it recalled the drug in Sept. 2004," the complaint says.
It adds that Nichols did not know she had suffered a compensable injury until Sept. 30, 2004, when Merck recalled the drug. The two-year statute of limitations, Kiblinger argues, has "been tolled by Merck's affirmative and intentional acts of fraudulent conduct, concealment and misrepresentation."
Vioxx was an anti-inflammatory drug designed to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches and dysmenorrheal pain. Instead, it was found to increase the risk of thromboembolic adverse events such as heart attacks and strokes.
"Had Plaintiff been aware of any of the now-apparent risks and dangers of Vioxx, Plaintiff would not have taken the drug," the complaint says.
Judge Paul Zakaib has been assigned the case.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-2212