The legal war between drug manufacturers and people who use the drugs has now moved into the heartland of America.

The law firm of Brown & Crouppen along with lawyers from the Watts Law Firm and Beasley Allen will begin the first Vioxx case to be tried in the Midwest beginning Tuesday, February 20th.Until now most Vioxx cases filed against the giant drug maker Merck & Co. have been tried on the east and west coasts and New Orleans.

“This is the first time that this war has been fought in the heart of America and it’s possible that this case will set the tone for how Merck will handle cases in the future,” said Andy Crouppen, attorney for Brown & Crouppen, the law firm representing the case of Schwaller vs. Merck & Co.

The upcoming wrongful death lawsuit, Schwaller vs. Merck & Co, Madison County ILL Case No. 05-L-687, will be the first Vioxx case to be tried in the Illinois Circuit Court in Madison County and the first anywhere in the Midwest. Brown & Crouppen has a long history in standing up for the consumer in drug litigation.

The case of Patricia Schwaller, a 52-year-old mother of two adult children, who died suddenly of a heart attack on August 8, 2003, will be tried by a trial team assembled by Brown and Crouppen consisting of Mikal Watts of The Watts Law Firm, Andy Birchfield of Beasley Allen and John Driscoll of Brown & Crouppen. She had been taking the drug Vioxx for just over 20 months. Schwaller was a long-time resident of Granite City, Ill in Madison County. Frank Schwaller, her spouse, is the plaintiff.

Merck, the number four (4) U.S. drug maker, withdrew Vioxx in 2004 when a study showed it raised the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Merck faces a reported 27,000 Vioxx lawsuits. So far Merck & Co. has gone to court with 13 plaintiffs.

“One must understand the importance of this type of litigation,” said Crouppen, attorney for Brown & Crouppen. “The money awarded to the plaintiff might be a better ‘headline,’ but it is secondary to the thousands of lives it saves a year by ensuring that dangerous drugs are detected and either labeled or pulled.”

A report by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) January 17, 2007 titled “The Role of Litigation in Defining Drug Risks” seems to support this statement. A summary statement says “…limiting legal involvement in the prescription drug arena is likely to increase the nation’s problem of poorly defined or inadequately presented drug risk information. These case studies indicate that clinical trials and routine regulatory oversight as currently practiced often fail to uncover important adverse effects for widely marketed products. In each instance, the litigation process revealed new data on the incidence of adverse events, enabled reassessments of drug risks through better evaluation of data, and influenced corporate and regulatory behavior. In performing these tasks, lawyers and their clients often find themselves serving as the drug safety researchers of last resort.”

A love story-that has died- Patricia Schwaller graduated from Granite City High School in June 1969 and married Frank, her high school sweetheart, that same year. After discharge from the service, Frank often worked the night shift. Patricia would stay up to wake Frank in time for work and make his lunch – Patricia lovingly put mustard “hearts” on his sandwiches. During the last year or so of Patricia’s life, her interests included her family, going to the theater with friends, relaxing in the pool, and enjoying a comfortable life-style with Frank. They had two children, Melissa and Jonathon, now grown. Frank has never recovered from Patricia’s sudden death and the loss of the times they shared. He does not know what to do with his life. Patricia will be missed by many.

Other Vioxx lawsuits have alleged that Merck & Co. failed to heed warning signs about the cardiovascular risks of its painkiller before rushing it to market, alleging the drug maker failed to warn doctors and patients of the medicines harmful effects. Also, alleging that the popular pain-relieving drug Vioxx caused heart attacks.

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