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Local Stroke Patient Happy To See Justice Near

Vioxx survivor Larry Kirkwood and attorney Jeff Bowersox meet reporters following announcement of the Merck settlement.

Stroke survivor Larry Kirkwood reacted happily today to news that drug manufacturer Merck would settle with all those injured by the painkiller Vioxx. Kirkwood began taking Vioxx in 2000 (at the age of 73) and two years later suffered a stroke. The settlement announced today means that Kirkwood, a resident of Clackamas County, will likely see justice for his injury in his lifetime. He is 78 years old.

“My interest is to see the drug company held accountable,” Kirkwood told reporters. “I took Vioxx because it was prescribed by my doctor and I assumed that it was safe. Obviously, it wasn’t. This settlement won’t help me recover from my stroke but it is satisfying to know the drug company will have to pay for what it did to me and so many others.”

Kirkwood’s Portland attorney Jeff Bowersox explained his client’s claim against Merck is one of thousands pending in federal and state courts. As a result of the settlement, his injury – along with the other claimants – will be promptly evaluated through a complex, but well-designed program that will compare the injuries of each Vioxx survivor and calculate each person’s economic losses and quality of life losses. Bowersox says Kirkwood is one of those whose injuries and claim will qualify for payment under the settlement. The injuries covered are heart attacks, ischemic strokes and sudden cardiac deaths.

“Many of the Vioxx survivors are elderly,” Bowersox pointed out. “Because of the huge number of those injured, it looked like Merck could make the lawsuits drag on for many years. It was likely that many injured people would pass away without having their day in court. Today’s announcement is especially good news for my clients and other claimants across the country because the completion of their cases is now in sight.”

Bowersox believes the settlement will affect hundreds of Oregon Vioxx survivors. He points out that Oregonians are in especially good shape to pursue their claims because of action taken by the legislature in the 2007 session. Lawmakers passed and the Governor signed into law a bill giving Oregonians an extended time to file their claims the drug manufacturers.