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ALL SET TO SUE DRUG CO.

Byline: By LIZ TRAINOR

IRISH law firms are preparing to sue pharmaceutical giants Merck after it was found their painkiller Vioxx was linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

The move comes just days after a jury in the US awarded US$250 million in damages to the widow of Robert Ernst who died after taking the drug.

Around 120,000 medical card holders across Ireland were prescribed Vioxx before it was taken off the shelves.

Vioxx, an arthritis drug, was withdrawn from circulation at the end of last September after a three-year trial linked it to an increased risk of heart disease events. Law firms in Dublin ar now preparing to represent dozens of potential claimants.

Merck has vowed to fight more than 4,200 Vioxx-related lawsuits pending across the US.

The company added it plans to appeal yesterday's ruling. Lawsuits have also been filed in Canada, Europe, Brazil, Australia and Israel.

The jury blamed the drug for killing Mr Ernst in his sleep in 2001.

Jurors rejected Merck's argument that he died of clogged arteries rather than a Vioxx-induced heart attack that led to his fatal arrhythmia.

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CONTROVERSY: Vioxx pills
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 21, 2005
Words:195
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