Pfizer Settles Lawsuit Over Dog’s Death from Rimadyl

The family of a golden retriever named “Sophie,” have settled a lawsuit with drug maker Pfizer Inc. after the dog ingested the anti-inflammatory medication, Rimadyl, which they allege ultimately killed their pet.

It was contended that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn pet owners of the potential dangers of Rimadyl, its canine anti-inflammatory medication. The dog’s owners believe the drug caused the death of their pet.

Pfizer markets Rimadyl as the leading non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain relief in dogs.

The confidential settlement resolves allegations of negligence and misrepresentation in the lawsuit brought by the owners against Pfizer in July 2011. Their golden retriever died after being given Rimadyl.

In a statement, the owners 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 dispute began after the owner’s May 2009 visit to a Colorado veterinary specialist after their golden retriever suffered a knee injury. In June 2009, the dog was given a drug cocktail that included Rimadyl, prior to surgery for the repair of a torn ligament.  Days later, Sophie lost her appetite and began vomiting.  The owners were ordered to discontinue the medication and Sophie was hospitalized. After two weeks in the hospital, tests showed severe liver degradation.

Subsequent testing confirmed that the dog was suffering from Rimadyl toxicity. Sophie passed away in July 2009, just two months after ingesting Rimadyl.

The dog’s owners consulted a specialist who noted that approximately one in 1,000 dogs experience adverse Rimadyl reactions, with a 95 percent survival rate when given sufficient treatment.

The medication that the dog’s owners received had been repackaged and they did not receive the warning materials that state possible side effects.

The owners filed their lawsuit 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, “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 couple plans to take the proceeds from their settlement to start an aggressive awareness campaign about Rimadyl toxicity. The campaign will include distributing pamphlets and other educational materials to veterinary clinics and online through their “Friends of Sophie” web site.

“I think the fact that this huge company settled with me speaks volumes,” Cooper said.  “And you’d be amazed how many people are going through the same thing that I am. I hope that we get a lot of traction. Maybe Pfizer will pull the drug or test it and make it safer…But I’m hoping my dog didn’t die in vain.”

It is true that there are side effects and risks with most drugs, but the drug makers need to post potential risks and warnings either on the labels or the veterinary offices should make the pet owners aware or have the warnings posted. No money can replace ‘man’s best friend.’ Our pets become part of our family!

Feel free to comment on this blog post.  You can contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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