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Did my arthritis pills give me heart attack.

Byline: Audrey Forbes

Patients who suffered side effects when taking a painkiller which has since been withdrawn are being urged to contact lawyers.

Teessiders are among 80 people in the North-east who may have a case for compensation and have contacted Newcastle solicitors Browell, Smith and Company.

The firm is looking for more people who may have suffered a heart attack or stroke while taking Vioxx. The arthritis treatment was prescribed to 400,000 patients in the UK before it was withdrawn in September last year when a study showed it doubled the risk of heart attack or stroke when taken for at least 18 months.

Cliff Dalton, 77, of Marton, Middlesbrough, started taking Vioxx in May 2001 for severe rheumatoid arthritis. Seven months later, while he was taking Vioxx, he suffered a heart attack, which left him needing a pacemaker.

"My heart attack was very serious," he said. "They thought I was going to die. I was shocked when I heard the stories about Vioxx. It's frightening to think at the time I was taking this drug it might not have been doing my heart much good."

In December, 2003, his consultant told him to stop taking it.

Dr Nick Wilkes, medical negligence lawyer with Browell, Smith and Company, said: "There are potentially thousands of these cases across the world and litigation is ongoing in America. We're acting as agents for an American firm of lawyers conducting cases in the States.

"We are channeling these to America and the decision rests with them. We are looking for people who have suffered a heart attack or stroke while taking Vioxx or within three days of finishing the drug."

Drug company Merck, which was unavailable for comment, has previously said it will fight every case brought against it.

If you think you may have a case, call lawyers on 0800 107 3000.
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2005
Words:311
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