Vioxx Lawsuit

Who can file a lawsuit?
  • People who have suffered cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes after using Vioxx
  • Family members of people who have died as a result of using Vioxx
Recent Settlements
  • Richard Irvin vs. Merck: Merck was acquitted of the charge by the court.
  • Bob Ernst vs. Merck: Bob died as a consequence of using Vioxx, and his widow was paid a settlement amount of $26 million.
  • Leonel Gazra vs. Merck: the plaintiff’s family was given a $32 million payout, because of the wrongful death of Leonel.
  • Elaine Doherty vs. Merck: The court ruled in favor of Merck and ascertained that the heart attack to the plaintiff was not caused by Vioxx

The generic name for Vioxx is Rofecoxib, which is basically an NSAID (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug). It is a COX-2 selective inhibitor, which is a type of nonsteroidal drug that targets enzymes that are responsible for causing pain and swelling. Vioxx is prescribed as a painkiller to patients of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, acute pain conditions, migraines, and dysmenorrhea. It was designed to be a better alternative to most other nonselective NSAID painkillers, like ibuprofen and naproxen. After its introduction to the markets, the drug took off very well, being taken up and recommended by doctors and patients alike.

Vioxx is the brand name under which Merck introduced Rofecoxib to the general public. Merck & Co. is an American multinational pharmaceutical company, regarded as one of the largest in the world. Headquartered in New Jersey, it has offices all around the globe and has a vast portfolio of drugs under its belt, due to its commitment to research and development. Vioxx was approved by the FDA in 1999 and was prescribed to over 80 million people during its 5-year stay in the market.

The active ingredient in Vioxx is Rofecoxib, which treats trouble pain areas and swelling, to ease the feeling of discomfort and pain experienced by people who have arthritis, extreme migraines, or painful period cramps. Vioxx’s label warns people against the usage of the drug if they have asthma-related diseases or CABG (coronary artery bypass surgery), as Vioxx can exacerbate these conditions and even prove to be fatal if these conditions get worse. These contraindications should be taken into account when prescribing the drug or starting the medication, or it could have very serious consequences for people. After a little while, it was discovered through studies and researches that Vioxx may play a significant part in increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, in patients who have been chronic users of the drug. In 2004, Merck ordered a complete recall of Vioxx from the market, without an explicit order from the FDA.

Uses of Vioxx

Vioxx is a painkiller, in essence. Although it’s related to other more common painkillers like ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, and indomethacin, Vioxx is selective in its treatment. Vioxx is used to treat and alleviate pain in patients diagnosed with several types of arthritis and other painful conditions such as dysmenorrhea and migraines.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis, a type of arthritis, is an autoimmune disease that afflicts many people, especially aged people. This occurs when your immune system starts attacking healthy body tissue, specifically your hand and wrist joints, manifesting itself in the form of swollen, painful, stiff joints. It is a long-term disease, and it is unclear what triggers it, but it can become so painful that it limits the movement and mobility of those afflicted.


Osteoarthritis is another type of arthritis that occurs because the protective cartilage located at the ends of your bones starts wearing down over time. While this can happen with any joints, the ones that are most affected are the joints in your hands, knees, hips, and spine. While the damage to the joints and protective cartilage is irreversible, the pain can be managed to ensure continued usage of the joints.


Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for menstrual cramps. While not all women experience painful uterine contractions, some do. The pain can get overwhelming sometimes and is even accompanied by momentary blindness, deafness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Painful cramps every month can disrupt a woman’s regular routine, which causes them to compromise on their work and other tasks that they may have scheduled each day.


A migraine is a primary headache disorder, and the pain scale for this disorder ranges from moderate to severe. It is often accompanied by light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. The pulsating headaches are usually concentrated on one side of the head and can last up to 3 days or more. People who suffer from extreme migraines are often debilitated and can’t do anything untill the headache subsides, and regular painkillers usually don’t help much either.

Acute Pain

Damaged tissue can hurt and cause pain in very specific areas. Acute pain is usually concentrated on a small portion of the body and can last for up to 3-6 months. It eventually disappears as the damaged tissue heals. Painkillers are used to regulate the pain until the tissue heals itself.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Jia is a condition of joint pain and stiffness in children aged 16 or younger. The symptoms are similar to those that are experienced by arthritis patients and stay for around 6 weeks or so. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis affects about 50000 children in the USA. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, Jia is not chronic and doesn’t last for a lifetime.

Risks and Dangers of Using Vioxx

In 2000, Merck launched a clinical trial called Adenomatous Polyp Prevention on Vioxx (APPROVe) to test whether the drug can also be used to prevent the recurrence of colon polyps. The trial also included a placebo group that was administered a sugar-pill. The trial was stopped after 18 months, because of the discovery of the higher risks of the occurrence of cardiovascular events in patients who were being given the Vioxx drug, even though no such phenomenon was noticed in the tests before the FDA’s approval of Vioxx.

A couple of years later, another study was conducted to see the effect of Vioxx on stomach ulcers and bleeding. Though the results were positive on that front when compared to another similar drug, naproxen, the study also revealed an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

In light of these discoveries, Merck decided to pull the drug off the market in 2004. By that time, Vioxx had been in the market for 5 years, and over 80 million people had used the drug. After the recall, many people came forward to claim that their cardiovascular illnesses and instances were a result of using Vioxx for years.

Because the studies clearly proved that Vioxx does cause these events, Merck could not deny these claims outright. However, Merck defended itself by claiming that Vioxx cannot cause heart attacks and strokes in patients who used it for less than 18 months. This line of defense saved Merck from billions in compensation as a lot of plaintiffs and lawsuit filers had not been using the drug for over a year.

About 11,000 Vioxx lawsuits are still waiting to be heard in the USA, and while Merck had agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle all the lawsuits against it in a settlement fund, lawsuits keep pouring in. The amount is said to be the largest ever to be paid in a drug settlement.

Who Can File a Vioxx Lawsuit?

Anybody who has a history of using Vioxx for any of the aforementioned conditions and suffered cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes is eligible to file a lawsuit against Merck & Co.

However, you should be able to prove that Vioxx was the cause of the side-effects you have experienced. For this, you’ll need a medical report that states that Vioxx did indeed play a part in triggering or causing your heart attack. In previous lawsuits, there have been instances where Merck was able to dismantle plaintiffs’ medical records and cause doubt about what caused their heart attacks, so it is necessary to hire a skilled lawyer who can represent you in court and who strives to obtain the maximum amount in settlement and compensation. The attorneys at Frankl & Kominsky are available to help you with your lawsuit.

You may also be eligible to file a lawsuit if you are a close family member of a person who has died as a result of a medical event caused by the usage of Vioxx. If you can prove that Merck’s drug and their failure to pull the drug off the market when they knew about the risks involved was the reason that your loved one lost their life, you may be able to receive compensation for loss of companionship, parental guidance (if applicable), and financial support, as well as the medical bills and mental anguish of the family left behind after the deceased.

Thus, you may be eligible to file a claim against Vioxx if you have medical evidence that Vioxx caused

  • you to suffer a cardiovascular event
  • your family member’s death due to a cardiovascular event
How Long Do I Have to File a Vioxx Lawsuit?

You should report the heart attack or stroke immediately, and ask your doctor if the cause could be the Vioxx drugs you’ve been taking. Act quickly after you have confirmed that Vioxx is the culprit behind your condition. You have a limited time to file a lawsuit against Merck, so consult with an injury lawyer.

The Statute of Limitations will vary from state to state, however, we encourage you to contact our seasoned injury lawyers to assist you with filing a lawsuit against Merck.

How Many Lawsuits Have Been Filed Against Merck?

After the Vioxx recall, lawsuits started pouring in against Merck that claimed that Vioxx was behind the heart attacks and strokes that people were suffering. Merck agreed to settle the litigation against it, with a settlement of about $4.85 billion in damages. Unfortunately, around the same time, the Statutes of Limitation for a lot of people started expiring. About 140,000 people claim that they experienced cardiovascular troubles while taking Vioxx.

The drug has also been held responsible for an estimated 60,000 deaths altogether.

Not all the cases that went to court were awarded damages, and Merck did win some cases where it was able to convince the jury that Vioxx was not the cause of a certain person’s heart attack and subsequent death. However, there were many people that did end up winning their Vioxx lawsuits and was awarded compensation by Merck. Here are a few high-profile Vioxx lawsuits cases that went to court.

Bob Ernst vs. Merck

One of the first-ever trials against Merck regarding its drug Vioxx ended in the jury unanimously agreeing that Merck was liable to pay damages for the death of a Texan man who was 59-years old. Bob Ernst suffered a major heart problem caused by a blood clot. The blood clot was believed to be formed as a result of Vioxx, which the man had been taking for the past 8 months.

Bob’s widow, Carol, was eventually awarded $26 million in compensatory and punitive damages after the cap on damages paid for torts was applied. This was the first win against Merck and paved the way for tens of others.

Leonel Gazra vs. Merck

The family of Leonel Gazra, a man who died of a heart attack in 2011 after taking Vioxx, took the case against Merck to court. The Texas jury found Merck liable for the death and ordered the company to pay $32 million in compensatory damages to the family of the deceased for their pain, as well as special damages.

These are just some of the examples of lawsuits against Merck. In another case, the jury awarded $9 million in punitive damages and $4.5 million in compensatory damages to a man who claimed that his heart attack was caused as a consequence of the drug. The jury agreed that Merck should be held liable for the event as it had failed to warn people and physicians of the risks associated with Vioxx.

Another case saw the plaintiff being awarded monetary damages for the heart problems that he suffered as a result of him taking Vioxx. However, not all cases resulted in a win for the plaintiffs.

Richard Irvin vs. Merck

One of the very first cases to go to court ended up in favor of Merck in 2001. It was the case of the 53-year old Florida man, Richard Irvin. Richard suffered a heart attack that proved to be fatal. The jury decided that Merck was not to be held liable for the man’s death.

Elaine Doherty vs. Merck

68-year old Elaine Doherty went to court against Merck after suffering a heart attack, but the jury ruled in favor of Merck as it decided that the heart attack was not caused by her consumption of Vioxx. The jury concluded that Ms. Doherty already had a lot of risk factors, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure, obesity, and age, any of which could have been the reason for the heart attack that she experienced.

Big pharmaceuticals have a lot of power and resources at their disposal, and they can afford to fight lawsuits. If you are bringing a case against Vioxx for the damage it has caused you, or for the wrongful death of a loved one, be sure to consult with an attorney. Experienced attorneys can represent you in court, and try to guide you with regards to the best course of action to take when going to court against multinational corporations. Frankl & Kominsky lawyers strive to help you recover the damages that you might have suffered as a result of the harmful negligence and product liability at the hands of Merck.

Hire a Lawyer to File a Vioxx Lawsuit

At Frankl & Kominsky Injury Lawyers, our attorneys have recovered more than $75 million in accident and injury settlements. If you or a loved one suffered a heart attack, stroke, or any such cardiovascular event as a result of taking Vioxx, we can try to help you recover compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and special damages. 

Heart attacks and strokes are serious, and if medical attention is not sought right away, they can inevitably lead to death. Our seasoned injury attorneys will try to get you the compensation you deserve for the mental anguish, loss of financial support and loss of companionship that comes with the death of a close family member.

Contact Frankl & Kominsky to get assistance from our team of knowledgeable attorneys about how to proceed with a Vioxx lawsuit against Merck. We also offer a contingency based fee.

Get a free consultation with our attorneys today by filling out the free case evaluation form on our website or by calling 855-955-1428.

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