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Pursing Merck And Vioxx With A Vengeance - Part 1

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, January 16, 2009 12:00 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Federal Preemption, Merck & Co, Vioxx, Dangerous Drugs, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Diana Levine, U.S. Supreme Court

Joan Petty fighting Merck in court over Vioxx.

Joan M. Petty and her great grandson



IMAGE SOURCE: © Photo Courtesy: Joan M. Petty, "My concern is the children's future"  


Joan Petty is going after pharmaceutical giant, Merck with a vengeance.

The 73-year-old Ft. Pierce, Florida woman says Merck is criminal for manufacturing the medication Vioxx, withdrawn from the market in 2004 after it was linked to thousands of heart attacks, strokes and deaths in people who took the medication for pain.

Petty is so convinced she is on the side of right that she has filed a civil lawsuit accusing the Whitehouse Station, N.J. - based company with a violation of the RICO, (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act), generally reserved for prosecuting organized crime.

She charges Merck and executives, Raymond V. Gilmartin, Richard Clark, and Edward Scolnick, with, “knowingly and willingly producing and marketing a toxic pill.”  

The RICO lawsuit was shifted from Ft. Pierce, Florida to federal court in New Orleans before Judge Eldon Fallon who is overseeing the $4.85 billion Merck settlement to end thousands of lawsuits filed over Vioxx.  

Petty, who had some paralegal training 20 years ago, worked as a controller for a paper company, an accountant, and a grant writer for nonprofit agencies, now spends her days filing Writs of Mandamus and Certiorari in an effort to have her day in court.

On January 16, this Friday, Petty’s case will go before the U.S. Supreme Court to be “Distributed for Conference.” Petty has asked the high court to review a lower court decision that dismissed her complaint against Merck.  

Not bad for a woman who was once declared legally dead.


Petty began taking Merck’s blockbuster pain medication Vioxx in 1999. Her husband was suffering from a heart condition and Alzheimer’s disease and his prescribing doctor gave her samples of Vioxx to keep her medical costs down and to control her pain from tendonitis and arthritis.  

It worked great, she says, and she continued to take Vioxx every day, twice a day for five years. 

But after two months on Vioxx, Petty had a heart attack. 

If you had to choose where to have one, your cardiologist’s office might be a first choice.  Petty says she was on the treadmill at the office of Dr. Joan Siracuse of Sebring, Florida.  The office confirms that Petty is a patient. 

That was just the first of three heart attacks she suffered along with two strokes. Eventually she would undergo triple bypass surgery, as well as surgery to implant a stent and balloon catheter. 

Petty says she was dead for three days and three nights.   

“A heart machine kept my blood moving. Every time they would come in my room to change the IV, they would have a prayer service around my bed. It was the most peaceful feeling, I didn’t want to wake up,” she tells IB News

Petty kept taking Vioxx since neither she nor her doctor linked it to the heart attacks. Later, she says her doctor confirmed it was her only risk factor for the heart attacks.  “When I stopped taking it, I started to get my life back," she says.  (Continue PART TWO)    #

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