A bill that would allow lawsuits against the makers of Vioxx, and other potentially dangerous pain killers has stalled in the Oregon Legislature.

The drug company Merck pulled Vioxx last September after the drug was linked to heart attacks and strokes.

Under normal circumstances, Oregon consumers would have two years from the time they knew they were injured to file a lawsuit. But a two-year-old state law says that if the injury occurred between 2001 and January 2004 no such lawsuits are allowed.

The stalled bill, which is stuck in the state Senate, would make an exception for Vioxx-related lawsuits, but it has faced opposition from the powerful pharmaceutical lobby.

Pendleton Republican David Nelson, one of the supporters of the bill, said he thought it was, “wrong to deny these Oregonians their day in court.”

But senators opposed to the bill say they don’t want to unleash more litigation that could drive up the cost of health care.

“It’s a really interesting clash between the issue of compassion (for injured Vioxx users) and the issue of the reality of living in a litigious society,” said Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day. He said he came down on the side of trying to keep the current limits on access to the courts.

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