Almost five billion dollars will be paid to thousands of people hurt by the drug Vioxx and some of those people live right here in East Texas.
Last week, KLTV reported pharmaceutical-giant Merck agreed to pay 4.85 billion dollars in one of the nation’s largest civil lawsuit settlements. Two sisters from Tyler who are part of that settlement, say they strongly believe their mother’s life was cut short simply because she took Vioxx.
Doctors always told sisters Opal and Jewel their mother Matilda “Susie” Hayter, was in picture perfect health even at the age of 80.
“She was a healthy person, even with her age, she just couldn’t walk good,” says Opal Wallace.
And for that, she took the drug Vioxx for more than a year. It was meant to help ease her arthritis, but little did they know it would kill her.
“I feel betrayed because I believe my mother still had a lot of years because with her background, you know, family background, her mother lived to be about 99, and I still think she had a lot of more years and yes, I feel betrayed,” Opal says.
She was there when doctors said her mother suffered a massive heart attack and later she would discover, like the thousands of others, it was from taking Vioxx.
“After founding out that it was because of a drug I was angry,” she explains.
“When we take anything to help our suffering, we want relief, not death,” says her sister Jewel Jordan.
The family qualifies for a portion of the multi-billion dollar settlement. Right now, they’re working with their lawyer on the exact figure, but the two say no amount of money will ever erase the pain they have knowing how she died.
“I will still regret losing her as I did in that way, I know we all have our time to go and, but I just felt like she had a few more years,” Opal says.
They say her life was taken away too soon, taken away by something that was supposed to help people live a better life.
The two sisters say they plan on evenly splitting their portion of the settlement, among their mother’s four children.
As is part of the settlement, who will receive what is based on a point system, which looks at the person’s age, how long they took Vioxx, and the severity of their injury.