PFIZER PHARMACEUTICALS SETTLES RIMADYL LAWSUITS
Talk about side effects! After the Lawsuit, AKC and Pfizer become partners.
Since 2003, AKC has sold pet insurance so owners can afford veterinary medicines that went sky-high pricing
after pet insurance became available.
LAWSUIT OVER VETERINARY DRUG RIMADYL®
Jean Townsend of Johns Island, South Carolina announced today that a settlement has been
reached with Pfizer, Inc. in what appears to be the first lawsuit of its
kind in this country - a lawsuit over injuries that led to the death of
Ms. Townsend's chocolate lab, George. Ms. Townsend originally brought
the lawsuit against Pfizer in October of 1999, two years after
the tragic death of George. The lawsuit alleged that the FDA approved drug
Rimadyl®, which was the subject of an
unprecedented multi-million dollar advertising campaign, was marketed
without a complete understanding of the serious side-effects that could
result from the drug. Ms. Townsend also alleged that neither she nor her
vet were adequately warned of the potential side-effects. After
administering the drug for only 14 days, George developed severe
internal bleeding and ultimately liver failure. George was euthanized on
October 13, 1997. In reaching the settlement, Pfizer has admitted no
"It was truly horrible," said Townsend of the experience. "But the most
troubling aspect of the ordeal was when I later learned that similar
side-effects had been reported to Pfizer and the FDA months before I
first gave the drug to my dog. Yet even after my pet became sick, I
continued to give him the pills because they were supposed to make him
feel better. I had no idea that he was suffering from the side-effects
of Rimadyl®. It is devastating to live with the realization that I gave
my beloved pet medicine to help him when, in fact, it was killing him."
After reporting George's death to Pfizer, Ms. Townsend was offered a
$249.33 settlement, but the offer came with the condition that the
settlement remain confidential. Ms. Townsend refused.
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In the months following George's death, Ms. Townsend began researching
this drug on the internet and soon discovered dozens of other pet owners
who had similar experiences with Rimadyl®. Fueled by the growing number
of people whose dogs had become sick or died after taking the drug, Ms.
Townsend, along with other concerned pet owners, started a campaign to
raise awareness of the potential for serious side-effects with this and
other veterinary medicines. As part of that campaign, Ms. Townsend and
others met with FDA officials as well as Pfizer veterinarians, urging
them to step-up efforts to more thoroughly inform pet owners of the
potential for serious side- effects with veterinary medicines.
Unsatisfied with the response of the FDA and Pfizer, Ms. Townsend turned
to the legal system and filed a class-action lawsuit. In her suit, Ms.
Townsend sought reimbursement of the $734.00 in veterinary expenses she
had incurred trying to save George, as well as establishing a class
action on behalf of the hundreds of other dog owners whose pets had
become ill or died.
In the meantime, reports of adverse reactions to Rimadyl® continued to
rise, and in 1998, Rimadyl® accounted for almost 39% of all Adverse Drug
Experience Reports received by the FDA. The reports were so numerous
that in December of 1999, the FDA took the extraordinary step of issuing
a public statement on the drug.
Within months of Ms. Townsend's suit and the "Update on Rimadyl®" issued
by the FDA, Pfizer announced significant changes in packaging, and that
it would begin dispensing a Client Information Sheet to be included with
veterinary prescriptions of Rimadyl®. The Client Information Sheet,
modeled after similar drug information sheets included with many human
drugs, was to provide pet owners with easily understandable information
about the potential side-effects and what to do if side-effects occur.
Ms. Townsend reports that as part of the settlement, Pfizer made cash
offers to over 300 other dog owners across the country to settle claims
for death or injury to the dog, veterinary expenses, property damage,
emotional distress and punitive damages. These individual offers
averaged over $1000.00 per animal and did not include a confidentiality
Speaking about the lawsuit and the settlement, Ms. Townsend said, "I am
pleased that through this suit, hundreds of other pet owners will be
reimbursed for veterinary expenses and the loss of their pets. Of
course, no amount of money would ever replace the loss of my friend
George, and the loss of so many other beloved companions." But to Ms.
Townsend, (who donated her settlement proceeds to a local veterinarian
to perform surgery on a pet whose owners could not afford the surgery)
the issue is far more than the money paid by Pfizer. It is the growing
public awareness that the medications we give our pets can have serious
side-effects. "We, as pet owners, have the right to know as much about
the good and bad sides of veterinary medicines as we do the medicines we
(Always for George - Always for the Rimadyl Dogs)
MORE ON RIMADYL® Information available in
We thank Jane Sinclair
for providing the following information in the continuing saga of the
Pfizer product known as Rimadyl®.
Jane says, "The Doris Day Animal League magazine, "Animal Guardian"
had an article on Rimadyl® in the Fall, 2000 issue, page 17.
Miracle Cure Can Be Deadly. The best-selling drug known as
Rimadyl ®, which has enjoyed remarkable success as an anti-inflammatory medicine
for pets, has been found to be deadly for some dogs, as witnessed by the
FDA receiving more than 6,000 bad reaction reports about the drug
manufactured by Pfizer. As a result, the FDA requested that Pfizer
advise consumers in their advertising that death was a possible side
effect. Pfizer refused and pulled their advertising, however they have
included "death" as a possible side effect on the drug label. Plans call
for a "Dear Doctor" letter to be issued to veterinarians and a safety
sheet will be attached to pill packages.
Pfizer acknowledges a problem with some dog owners, especially the
consumer group which mounted a campaign dubbed BARKS, for Be Aware of
Rimadyl's Known Side-effects (including loss of appetite, wobbling,
vomiting, seizures and severe liver malfunction). The drug company is
reported to be contacting pet owners who have told their stories on the
Internet, and is offering to pay medical and diagnostic expenses for
some dogs who may have been harmed by Rimadyl ®.
Rimadyl sales continue to grow as does support from veterinarians.
While the drug has proved helpful to many dogs with arthritis, it has
proven deadly to some dogs. Make sure if your veterinarian prescribes
Rimadyl ® that you thoroughly discuss the possible side effects so you can
carefully monitor your dog's health.
This is a major breakthrough in our education campaign for
responsible use of this drug.
Jane Sinclair - for Misty &
all the Rimadyl dogs. BARKS (Be Aware of Rimadyl's
An interesting August 2006 sidebar from
Jean Sinclair having to do with Animal Suffering & Pfizer:
source: Corporate Watch
"11. Animal suffering
animals to test its products. But of course, as a company with
high stakes in animal health care, Pfizer claims to be "your
pet’s best friend". Pfizer gives its customers advice on ‘what
to do when your best friend (your pet) is hurt.’ e.g., in case
of osteoarthritis, when you notice the symptoms, you’re being
encouraged to see your veterinarian and ask him/her about Rimadyl®, a pain relief medication that can help a dog suffering
from arthritis. Rimadyl is supposed to relieve pain, ‘allowing
for increased activity and freedom of movement, thereby
improving a dog's quality of life’.
dog-owners saw the quality of their dog’s life deteriorate
instead. Jean Townsend filed a class-action lawsuit was on Oct.
12 1999 on behalf herself and other dog owners whose dogs had
suffered or died after taking Rimadyl® (the ‘miracle drug’ for
arthritis heavily advertised by Pfizer).
Jean Townsend’s dog’s
situation deteriorated fast after taking Rimadyl, to the point
where he had to be euthanized. Quite a few other dogs, it turned
out, had suffered adverse reactions to Rimadyl as well. The
class-action lawsuit alleged that Pfizer Inc. knew about the
adverse side effects, and did little to communicate them to pet
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