Federal lawsuits alleging the arthritis drug Vioxx hurt patients will be transferred to a New Orleans judge who will handle all of the pretrial proceedings.
A panel of federal judges yesterday assigned all pending Vioxx product liability lawsuits against manufacturer Merck and Company to Judge Eldon E- Fallon.
A judicial panel in Florida last month heard arguments from Merck and from plaintiffs' attorneys on possible locations to handle pretrial steps in the massive litigation.
The plaintiffs are represented by Andy Birchfield, whose Montgomery, Alabama, firm already has filed more than 100 Vioxx product liability suits and is evaluating thousands of other Vioxx users who suffered strokes or heart attacks.
Merck said it is still awaiting the panel's decision on which federal court will handle lawsuits filed by shareholders claiming they lost money as a result of the September 30th Vioxx withdrawal.
New Jersey-based Merck pulled Vioxx from the market the day after its own internal research showed that long-term use of the drug increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.