Barristers & Solicitors  -  James M. Poyner, Kenneth J. Baxter, Patrick J. Poyner

For Immediate Release

Vioxx class action Initiated for British Columbians

(NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C., 4 October, 2005) - British Columbians who may have been put at risk because of the drug VIOXX, will be represented in a class action law suit filed October 1, 2004, in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

The suit against Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. and associated firms, developers and promoters of VIOXX, was initiated by the law firm of Poyner Baxter of North Vancouver, which works
predominantly in the field of class action suits. It will parallel similar litigation worldwide.

VIOXX - also known as CEOXX in some countries -has been prescribed for the relief of arthritic and other acute pain. It was withdrawn from the market worldwide by Merck & Company on September 28, 2004. after studies demonstrated a significantly increased risk to patients of cardiovascular events, including strokes and heart attacks. Trials which commenced in 2000 involved 2,600 patients. Conclusive results concerned those who used the drug for 18 months or more, but Merck claimed evidence did not indicate increased risk for those whose usage was of less duration.

VIOXX, with annual sales of $US 2.5 billion worldwide, has been used by 84 million patients since it was introduced in 1999. It has been the 10th best selling drug in Canada with 2003 sales of $200 million.

Under B.C.’s “Class Proceedings Act,” a suit is brought in the name of one individual as
“representative of a class.” The Poyner Baxter action cites the case of one person, but if certified by the Supreme Court, it will represent and potentially benefit everyone in the
province who has used VIOXX.

An excerpt from the statement of claim cites:

“VIOXX has been associated with an increased risk of serious, adverse cardiovascular complications, including but not limited to, heart attack, stroke, angina pectoris, atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, hematoma, irregular heartbeat, palpitation, premature ventricular contraction, tachycardia, venous insufficiency, cerebrovascular accident, congestive heart failure, deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, transient ischemic attack, and unstable  angina.

“Defendants knew or ought to have known at least as early as 2000 that there was a significant risk of serious adverse cardiovascular complications from ingesting VIOXX. The Defendants failed to apprise the Plaintiff or his physicians of that risk.

The suit explains that information to physicians, pharmacists and patients in Canada failed to warn of the serious adverse cardiovascular risks associated with ingesting VIOXX, whereas in the U.S., this side-effects advisory was standard:

“Heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular events, such as blood clots in your body have been reported in patients taking VIOXX.”

“It is simply not good enough in the health field to say ‘oops, we’re sorry,’ and then carry on as if it is business as usual,” said lawyer Jim Poyner.

“The essential point in an action like this is the phrase that they ‘knew or ought to have known’ the dangers to patients. The evidence is clear that Merck knew something was wrong as early as 2000 and failed to inform Canadians, not even the cautionary warning given to Americans,” Poyner said.

The complete text of the Statement of Claim can be found at www.poynerbaxter.com 

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Poyner Baxter, Suite 408 - 145 Chadwick Court
North Vancouver, B.C. V7M 3K1
Telephone: 604.988 6321 Fax: 604.988 3632
e-mail: poyner.baxter@telus.net
web site: www.poynerbaxter.com

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