Pfizer Inc. has settled a lawsuit filed by the owners of a golden retriever. It was contended that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn pet owners of the potential dangers of Rimadyl, its canine anti-inflammatory medication. Owners said the drug caused the death of their pet. The confidential settlement resolves allegations of negligence and misrepresentation in the lawsuit brought by the owners against Pfizer in July 2011. The golden retriever died after being given Rimadyl. The owners, in a statement, said:
This victory underscores what has been known for some time now. While this drug can be beneficial for certain dogs, for many it has been a deadly prescription. More research on Rimadyl is needed to prevent animals from needlessly dying.
The settlement funds will be used to “launch an education campaign that will inform pet owners about the risks associated with this medication.” The campaign will include distributing pamphlets and other educational materials to veterinary clinics.
The dispute arose from the owners’ May 2009 visit to a Colorado veterinary specialist after their golden retriever suffered a knee injury. Prior to surgery, the dog was given a drug cocktail that included Rimadyl, which Pfizer markets as the leading nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for pain relief in dogs. Following the surgery, the golden retriever became ill and the owners were ordered to discontinue medication. Subsequent testing revealed that the dog was potentially suffering from Rimadyl toxicity. A specialist consulted by the owners noted that approximately one in 1,000 dogs experience adverse Rimadyl reactions, with a 95 percent survival rate given sufficient treatment. The pet was hospitalized for liver failure and, after weeks of fluctuating health, ultimately, in July 2009, succumbed to Rimadyl poisoning.
The owners filed their suit in Boulder County District Court in July 2011, seeking damages for negligence, strict product liability, breach of express and implied warranty, deceptive trade practices and misrepresentation. One of the owners said, in their statement, that:
Many animals do well on this drug, but you don’t know how your pet will react until it dies. We want Pfizer to conduct more research on this drug to determine its wide-ranging effects on all breeds.
The owners are represented by Jennifer Edwards of the Animal Law Center, located in Denver. Jennifer founded the center and is dedicated to protecting animals and the rights of their owners. She has been instrumental in the evolution of “animal law.” She did a very good job in this case. It wouldn’t be asking too much for the drug company to simply provide adequate warnings of all known risks associated with use of Rimadyl.
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