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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Johns Island, South Carolina - August 18, 2004

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 a class action lawsuit against Pfizer in October of 1999, two years after the tragic death of George.  The lawsuit alleged that after initial approval by the FDA, the 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 wrong-doing.

"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.

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 provision.

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 give ourselves."

For further information please contact:

Jean Townsend - Luswinton @ aol com (omit spaces when mailing)
1769 Clark Hills Circle
Johns Island, SC 2955



Hi Folks,

It’s VERY important  for your vet to give you the “Client Information Sheet”  (CIS) when prescribing drugs such as Rimadyl.  The manufacturer of Rimadyl is Pfizer.  The Class Action Law Suit against them was recently settled – it is said to be the “first of its kind in this country”.

 Concerning the care of our companion animals, it’s best to get all the facts in order to Make Informed Decisions.

To see the comparison of Rimadyl & other NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) see:

To follow is another vet’s perspective & helpful info.





Dr. Rogers has given permission to cross post the message  Thank you, Dr. Rogers! 

Please everyone remember to check Dr. Rogers' web site also. 

----- Original Message -----
: LuSwinton at aol. com
To: drbob at  critterfixer .com
Sent: Friday, August 20, 2004 11:34 AM
Subject: Re: Rimadyl

Dear Dr. Rogers:

Thank you so much for taking time out from your busy schedule to write.  I appreciate your kind words immensely.   I was so fortunate to have found a law firm that would take this case!  I think my George has had a hand in this all along!  From the very beginning, I made it known to my attorneys that a "Gag Order" would not be acceptable! 

My colleagues and I will continue our fight to reach dog owners who are still unaware of the dangers of these drugs.

Would you be so kind as to allow me to post your entire message on my mailing list - and other lists I belong to?  With permission to cross post?  Please let me know  I think you have such an important message.

I will be leaving later this afternoon for a "short" vacation - will return Sunday evening.

Again, thank you so much for writing me.  I am more convinced than ever now, that our beloved companions have not died in vain.

Kind regards,

(Always for George - Always for the Rimadyl Dogs)
URL for Class Action Lawsuit
My Home Page

In a message dated 8/20/2004 1:23:18 PM Eastern Daylight Time, drbob at writes:

Dear Jean, I want to commend you on your courageous fight to bring to light the problems with Rimadyl. I especially commend you on not allowing a gag order on the settlement. I know it was a hard and stressful fight. I wish there were more people in the world like you.

I have never used Rimadyl in my practice. I never buy drugs the first year they come out. I wait to see the number of reactions reported to the FDA ADE.  Unfortunately most Vets get all their information from the sales people. I have asked a Senator in Texas to introduce a bill to prohibit the approval of Continuing Education Credits for a seminar where the speaker is a paid employee of a drug company or where a conflict of interest exists. Speakers should reveal all financial ties to any products discussed. I feel this is central to the problem with Rimadyl and many other drugs.
To follow is the handout I give to all clients to warn them about side effects of all NSAIDs.All the information came from Dr Dawn Boothe, pharmacologist professor  at Auburn. 


Critter Fixer Pet Hospital

Bob Rogers DVM


  Warning Concerning Arthritis Medications
All Non Steroid Anti-inflammatory Drugs Can Kill


Rimadyl, Etogesic, Dermaxx, Metacam and Zubrin all belong to a class of drugs called non-steroid anti-inflammatory Drugs. The action of these drugs is similar to aspirin, in that they inhibit inflammatory substances called prostaglandins (PGEs), which cause pain, inflammation, and fever. These drugs are safer than aspirin because they are more selective for the harmful prostaglandins, COX 2 PGEs, and spare certain prostaglandins, COX 1 PGEs, which are essential to protect the G.I. tract, kidneys and other organs.

There is risk of liver failure with all NSAIDs. Liver necrosis in Labrador Retrievers caused by Rimadyl have been reported in the largest numbers. The manufacturer of Rimadyl alleges these reactions are attributed to the facts that Labs are the most common Breed, and Rimadyl was the first and most commonly prescribed NSAID. Rimadyl may be getting a bad rap. Until more information is available, the staff of Critter Fixer Pet Hospital prefers to exercise caution, and not to use this drug.  All NSAIDs have the potential to cause liver failure.  Blood tests before administration of NSAIDs cannot predict this liver reaction. The risk of this reaction is small. (1:10,000 with Rimadyl)

NSAIDs are relatively new to Veterinary Medicine. Veterinarians have little clinical experience with these drugs.  Although every manufacturer has data that alleges their drug is safer than the others, No credible non-manufacturer sponsored data exists which accurately compares these drugs.

NSAIDs Dos and Don’ts

Do ask your Vet for a written warning about side effects, and read this warning. Ask to see the manufacturers package insert.

Do Test your pet for kidney problems before starting NSAIDs. This is especially important in older pets, which are prone to kidney failure. A urinalysis and blood test (BUN, Creatinine) are essential. 

Do Monitor kidney and liver function if your pet is on these drugs for a prolonged period of time. Monitoring is recommended whenever the dosage is increased.

Do Give Zantac or other antacid medication daily to prevent duodenal ulcers, which is a common side effect of all NSAIDs. Unfortunately this will not prevent gastric ulcers.

Do Give Polysulfated glucosamines, PSGAs, (Adequan, Glycoflex, or Cosequin) with prolonged use of NSAIDs for arthritis and degenerative joint disease. 

   NSAIDs relieve pain, but unfortunately over a long period of time NSAIDs can
contribute to cartilage degeneration. PSGAs help cartilage to heal.

   NSAIDs can cause g.i. ulceration. PSGAs are part of the protectant lining of the g.i
   tract. NSAIDs are better tolerated with PSGAs. PSGAs also protect the kidney.

Do Stop the medication at the first signs of gastric upset, nausea, and lack of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea.



Do not mix NSAIDs. Do not give NSAIDs with steroids like dexamethazone, prednisolone, Vetalog or Depomedrol. Gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding can result.

A 3 – 5 day withdrawal period is necessary if you switch from one drug to another

Do not give NSAIDs in patients with known impaired gastrointestinal, kidney, cardiovascular, or coagulation functions.

If liver enzymes are elevated use only at a lowered dose, and with liver treatment medication (i.e. SAM – E)
Do not give NSAIDs with Enalapril or other ACE inhibitors, Lasix, or with nephrotoxic drugs like aminoglycoside antibiotics or psychotropic drugs. (Prozac, Clomiclam) 

Do not give NSAIDs in dogs with Cushing’s disease or other diseases where the patient is predisposed to thromboembolisms. (blood clots)

Do Not use NSAIDs in trauma patients or critical care patients due to potential clotting problems and nephrotoxicity.

A final note:

Relief from pain by NSAIDs is an individual response. If your pet does not get adequate relief from pain and return to normal function with one NSAID it is worth trying a different NSAID.

Reactions to NSAIDs are comparable. If your pet has an adverse reaction to one NSAID, another NSAID should not be used. Another Class of pain reliever drugs should be used.


ã Copyright 1995 Helen L. McKinnon All Rights Reserved

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