`
 
 

Dog owner urges look
at drugs' side effects

 

 

DOGS

 
 

 

8/20/04


By CHUCK SCHULTZ

NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER

A Solvang woman and hundreds of other pet owners nationwide recently received lawsuit settlements from Pfizer Corp. because they allegedly were not warned that giving a certain arthritis drug to dogs could be fatal.

Lillian Seldeen said her English springer spaniel Murphy died in November 1997 after being administered the drug Rimadyl periodically for several months.

Convinced that side effects from Rimadyl caused the dog's death -- even though her veterinarian strongly doubts there was a connection -- Ms. Seldeen joined in a class-action suit against Pfizer filed in October 1999 by Jean Townsend of South Carolina.

Ms. Townsend's Labrador retriever allegedly developed severe internal bleeding and suffered from liver failure after being administered Rimadyl for 14 days. The dog was put to sleep in October 1997. The lawsuit claimed neither Ms. Townsend nor her veterinarian were adequately warned of Rimadyl's potential side effects.

However, no such adverse reactions appeared during the limited testing of Rimadyl required by the federal Food and Drug Administration before the drug hit the market in 1997, according to Bob Fauteux, a spokesman for Pfizer Animal Health in New York.

"This drug was so enthusiastically received that very quickly after its launch, hundreds of thousands of dogs were on Rimadyl," he said. Only then "did Pfizer become aware that serious side effects could occur, but very rarely. We did indeed get some reports of serious side effects, which we promptly reported to the FDA."


Warnings on Rimadyl packaging were modified in 1998, including listing death as a potential consequence. Information sheets about possible side effects were also distributed to veterinarians, Mr. Fauteux said. Information about Rimadyl, also known as carprofen, is available online at www.rimadyl.com.

In the past seven years, the drug has been administered to about 10 million dogs, Mr. Fauteux said. "It is far and away the leading medication for canine pain and inflammation, offering the overwhelming majority of dogs safe and effective relief without serious side effects."


Ms. Seldeen, who owns Singing Dog Ranch in Solvang, said she received a settlement from Pfizer in July for $971, which included her veterinary expenses and attorney fees. She hopes the suit will make owners more aware of the potential dangers of treating dogs with nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Rimadyl.

Another of her English springer spaniels died last month, she said, after being administered a similar drug called Deeramax only five times.

"Far more dogs are helped by these drugs than are hurt," she conceded. "I'm not on a crusade to get these drugs off the market. I just want people to be aware of the potential side effects."


Her veterinarian, Dr. Ronald Faro of St. Francis Pet Clinic, said he frequently prescribes Rimadyl for dogs and believes the drug "had absolutely nothing to do with" the death of Ms. Seldeen's dog in 1997. "I have not had any instances of problems with Rimadyl," he said.

However, "there is no question in my mind," he added, that use of Deeramax caused the death of her other dog.

Deeramax is made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and a company spokesman said Friday that side effects resulting in death are extremely rare.

"Deeramax has helped safely control arthritis problems in millions of dogs," said Joe Burkett at Novartis Animal Health in Greensboro, N.C. "As with any drug, adverse events can happen. Whenever an adverse event is reported, we do investigate it completely."


Pfizer agreed to settle the South Carolina lawsuit rather than go to trial, Mr. Fauteux said, "strictly as a more efficient way to resolve these claims. Pfizer never admitted any liability whatsoever in this case."


According to Ms. Townsend, Pfizer made cash offers averaging more than $1,000 apiece to settle claims for injury or death from about 300 dog owners nationwide. "I am pleased that, through this suit, hundreds of other pet owners will be reimbursed for veterinary expenses and the loss of their pets," she stated in a written release. An even more important result, she noted, "is the growing public awareness that medications we give our pets can have serious side effects."

Reprinted with permission from the Santa Barbara News-Press

RAFAEL MALDONADO / NEWS-PRESS

Lillian Seldeen of Solvang, who had two dogs die after they were given arthritis medications, is among hundreds of pet owners who recently settled a lawsuit with Pfizer Corp., which manufactures Rimadyl. She received a $971 settlement to cover her veterinary fees and attorney costs.

 

Copywrited

Posted with permission

 

------------
------------
------------
------------
------------
------------
------------
------------
------------
------------

------------

------------

------------

------------
 
------------

------------

------------
------------
------------
------------
------------
"All truth passes through three stages:
First it is Ridiculed.
Second, it is Violently Opposed.
Third, it is Accepted as being Self-Evident."
~Arthur Schopenhauer~ (1778-1860)