Pfizer Sued After Dog Dies From Rimadyl Toxicity

Pfizer Sued After Dog Dies From Rimadyl Toxicity

August 26th, 2011 // 11:57 am @

A controversy over a painkiller for dogs may be bubbling up again. A Colorado couple have filed a lawsuit against Pfizer for allegedly failing to adequately warn that its Rimadyl med, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, can cause severe harm. The issue mirrors the substance of a class-action lawsuit brought in 1999 by hundreds of pet owners, but that Pfizer subsequently settled in 2004.

Now, though, the publicity over this new lawsuit might prompt a new round of litigation, given that Rimadyl has been known for years to consistently generate a large number of adverse events. These include a reaction that Pfizer vets call Rimadyl toxicity, which is mentioned in the prescribing information, although death is listed as a rare event.

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The lawsuit was filed by Christopher Cooper and Shelley Smith whose golden retriever, named Sophie, was given Rimadyl following surgery in June 2009 for a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture. Eleven days later, the dog began experiencing symptoms, such as vomiting and a lack of appetite. Their vets contacted Pfizer, whose own vets confirmed the reaction appeared to be Rimadyl toxicity and they suggested hospitalization.

The dog was subsequently hospitalized for nearly two weeks and tests showed severe liver degradation. By the end of July 2009, Sophie was dead. By then, the couple racked up approximately $30,000 in expenses and, after being alerted, Pfizer sent a check for $1,000, matching the average amount offered to pet owners who participated in the earlier class action lawsuit (read this). However, they rejected the payment, according to their attorney.

“Many dogs do well on the drug, but you don’t know how yours will react until it dies. Pfizer actually needs to do more testing to determine how this drug affects different breeds differently,” says Jennifer Edwards, an attorney with the Animal Law Center, which specializes in litigation on behalf of pet owners. “It’s an inherently dangerous drug for many dogs and it’s not really clear which ones can be affected. We need more research.” She maintains that hundreds, if not thousands of dog owners are encountering the same problem (here is the lawsuit).

We have asked Pfizer for a comment and will update you accordingly. UPDATE: A Pfizer spokesman writes us this: “While Pfizer cannot comment on pending litigation, it’s important to note that Rimadyl, which was launched in 1997, has been approved as a safe and effective treatment for pain in dogs. It is the No. 1 recommended pain reliever by veterinarians and has been used in more than 16 million dogs.”

Source: Pharmalot

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