A FAMILY are fighting for justice from an American drugs company which they blame for the death of their much-loved mother and wife.

June Congdon, from Rayleigh, died from a heart attack, aged 66, after three years of taking the painkiller Vioxx for her arthritis.

Husband William Congdon and daughter Loretta Barham say US manufacturer Merck should be held responsible for her death, in September, 2002, which followed two heart attacks that year.

They are among 300 British users of the painkiller Vioxx, or their relatives, who suffered heart attacks or strokes, but have not seen a penny in compensation from drug manufacturer, Merck.

In 2007, Merck agreed a £2.5billion settlement with thousands of American users, but people living outside the country were not deemed eligible for compensation.

Ms Barham, 43, said: “I should never have lost my mother.

“It was a massive shock. She was only 66 and perfectly OK.

“Merck shouldn’t get away with it. The drug never should have gone out. The doctors prescribing it never even knew the risks.

“It’s appalling. Some people who took it have had strokes and can’t care for themselves.

“My mum’s not even here today.”

Ms Barham and Mr Congdon are pursuing legal action against Merck to obtain a similar settlement for British victims.

They have been urging their MPs to force the Government to put pressure on Merck.

Ms Barham, of Sandhill Road, Eastwood, said: “It’s disgusting.

“We’re as much human beings as the Americans are.

“Why pay them and not us? If they provide the drugs in this country, then they should pay out.”

Merck has denied liability and any wrongdoing. It claimed Vioxx was thoroughly tested before its release.

Rayleigh MP Mark Francois has written to Health Secretary Alan Johnson and Health Minister Dawn Primarolo.

He said: “This campaign is going to gain momentum. I think ministers will come under further pressure to persuade Merck to compensate British victims.”