SIGNIFICANT INCREASED RISK OF HEART ATTACK AND STROKE TRIGGERS ZELNORM NATIONAL CLASS
TORONTO, November 3, 2008 – A national class action was launched today against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., seeking damages on behalf of all Canadians who ingested the prescription medication Zelnorm. The class action was commenced by the Toronto firms ROCHON | GENOVA LLP and Himelfarb Proszanski LLP.
Zelnorm was used for the symptomatic treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and was marketed in Canada between March, 2002 and March, 2007 when sales were suspended at the request of Health Canada. The basis for this request was stated by the defendant to be the results of a retrospective analysis of pooled clinical data that reflected a significant increased incidence of cardiovascular events in persons taking Zelnorm.
The claim alleges the defendant had knowledge of increased cardiovascular risk long before the market withdrawal, yet failed to inform Canadian consumers or physicians.
Specifically, the claim charges that the defendant had results from early clinical trials, before Zelnorm was ever marketed in Canada, that revealed an increased risk of cardiovascular adverse events with Zelnorm. It is further alleged that when this information was combined with subsequent analyses conducted by the defendant’s affiliate at the request of the Swiss regulator in 2004 and 2005, the dangerous cardiovascular profile of the drug should have been obvious.
The proposed representative plaintiffs in the class action include Trudy and Tim Metzger of Elmira, Ontario. In November of 2006, Trudy was a healthy and active mother of five when, two days before her 37th birthday, she suffered a severe heart attack. She had been taking Zelnorm for about 5 months and was never given any warning that using the drug put her at increased risk of heart attack.
“If I had known that taking this drug would have such a devastating impact on my life, I would have kept using my former coping methods to deal with my IBS”, she stated. She believes that the defendant should have warned her and other Canadian consumers about the true risks associated with Zelnorm and says that “This lawsuit is about seeking justice; it’s about forcing this company to be accountable for its actions”.