Damages From Vioxx, Class Action in the U.S. - Viglia Italia - May 12, 2005

By: Bruno Mastragostino
Viglia Italia
May 12, 2005

Translated from Italian

Italians who took Vioxx, Merck's non-steroid anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug, can turn to CODACONS [Coordinamento delle Associazioni per la Difesa dell'Ambiente e dei Diritti degli Utenti e dei Consumatori, Coordination of Associations for the Defense of the Environment and the Rights of Users and Consumers] to initiate the first Italian class action lawsuit in the United States, where the consumers' association is tied to the law offices of Kenneth Moll of Chicago to obtain compensation for damages suffered from the side effects which the drug produces. The class action in fact sets a deadline for the submission of requests for damages. "To date, according to an estimate by the Food and Drug Administration, more than 27,000 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths could be attributed to Vioxx," recalls CODACONS. "The pharmaceutical firm was forced, by the American judge in Illinois, to award 250 million dollars for each case as punitive damages, that is, for having voluntarily concealed its harmful side effects," said attorney Kenneth Moll of Chicago. It will be the American judge's responsibility to draw up a list of those who can request compensation. According to Silvio Garattini, director of the Mario Negri Institute of Milan, it is necessary for European drug regulatory authorities to reformulate their position, which today is tied to the industry rather than to the health of its citizen consumers. "In Europe, the EMEA [European Medicines Agency] is a body within the framework of the EU Commission which is subordinate to the industry's general management. The EMEA must go back to being under a more logical jurisdiction, that is, under the directorate of public health."