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Liberal Democrats fight for Vioxx victims

March 6, 2008 3:00 PM

This week a group of Liberal Democrat MPs, including Health Spokesman Norman Lamb, Tim Farron and Jenny Willott, met with lawyers for victims of Vioxx to discuss the situation of British sufferers of Vioxx, who have been denied access to justice by the US courts. Both Tim and Jenny have constituents who have suffered heart attacks and are trying to take legal action.

Vioxx, an arthritis drug, has been shown in some studies to double the likelihood of users suffering heart disease or stroke. The manufacturers of the drug, Merck Sharp and Dohme, have made out of court payments to American victims following a number of court cases, but there is no compensation available for British and other non-US based sufferers. British victims have been denied access to legal aid, and the potential legal costs which could be imposed by Merck are too great for the victims to afford to take action in the UK courts.

The Liberal Democrats are therefore fighting for a £20 million fund to be made available by Merck Sharp and Dohme for British victims, to be paid at the same rates as the US fund, and are also calling for an adjournment debate on the subject in the House of Commons.

Speaking after the meeting, Jenny Willott MP said:

"There is something fundamentally unjust that those who took Vioxx and have suffered ill health in the US have been compensated, whilst those in the UK have received nothing. The victims of Vioxx deserve access to justice - they deserve to have their day in court. We want to see a fund for British victims established so they are treated the same as American victims. I will therefore be calling for a debate in Parliament, to bring this issue out into the open and give it the exposure the victims deserve."

Tim Farron MP said:

"It is imperative that something is done to alleviate the suffering caused by Vioxx. To this end, I will be encouraging my fellow MPs to sign my Early Day Motion, EDM 820, to increase pressure on the Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, and the Government to act on behalf of the innocent sufferers of Vioxx to help them get justice, and together with Jenny I shall be calling for a debate on this subject."

Norman Lamb MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Health, added:

"£20 million is a drop in the ocean to a large multi-national company of this nature, yet would make an immeasurable difference to those whose lives have been blighted by Vioxx. I call upon Merck, Sharp and Dohme to provide funds for Vioxx victims in countries outside the US. They should not hide behind the legal system and deny these victims the compensation they deserve."