Hagens Berman: Pfizer Settles Lawsuits Over Prescription Pain Killers Bextra and Celebrex

Saturday, October 18, 2008 General News
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SEATTLE, Oct. 17 Hagens Berman today announced it reachedan $89 million settlement with Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) on behalf of purchasers ofCelebrex and Bextra in a suit claiming the pharmaceutical giant launchedmisleading marketing campaigns for its drugs.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080317/AQM144LOGO)

The suit claimed Pfizer misled physicians and consumers when it toutedBextra as a superior product to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs) when the drug had no appreciable difference than less expensivemedications. Hagens Berman also filed suit on behalf of consumers whopurchased the drug Celebrex, claiming Pfizer failed to disclose serious risksof blood clots, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problemsassociated with the drug.

The settlement is part of a larger $894 settlement that includes a bevy ofpersonal injury, consumer fraud and state attorney general claims againstPfizer.

"This is a victory for purchasers, including third-party payers andconsumers across the country, who will receive monetary relief from thesettlement," said Steve Berman, managing partner at Hagens Berman. "It is alsoan example of the critical role private litigation plays in holdingpharmaceutical companies accountable in an era when the FDA can't or won't actas a watchdog."

The lawsuits allege Pfizer used dubious tactics to undermine the FDAapproval process of both drugs.

From 1999 through 2003, Pfizer spent more than $400 million ondirect-to-consumer advertising for Celebrex, creating $2.29 billion of revenueand accounting for six percent of the company's total sales. Bextra,originally approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and primarydysmenorrheal in women, helped increase Pfizer sales to $139 million in thethird quarter of 2002 with its off-label promotions, the suit claimed.

According to court documents, in an effort to push Bextra into a largermarket, Pfizer hired Scirex, a clinical testing firm, to help exploit aloophole in government regulations that prohibits the promotion of drugs forunapproved uses except in published research and medical education.

Scirex recruited dental patients to demonstrate the drug's effectivenessand published the results in the May 2002 edition of The Journal of theAmerican Dental Association. As a result of the article, and heavy marketingefforts, sales significantly increased.

In 2005, Pfizer voluntarily withdrew Bextra from the U.S. market. Thewithdrawal was due to safety concerns over an increased risk of cardiovascularevents in patients using the drug for acute pain treatment.

The $89 million settlement is still pending upon court approval anddisbursement guidelines. A settlement hearing will take place within the nextfew months.

Hagens Berman served as lead counsel in both cases against Pfizer. Moreinformation regarding the settlement and each case is available on the firm'sWeb site at http://www.hbsslaw.com/bextra_litigation andhttp://www.hbsslaw.com/pfizer_celebrex_lawsuit.html.

About Hagens Berman

Hagens Berman, formally Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, is based in Seattlewith offices in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and NewYork. Since the firm's founding in 1993, it has developed a nationallyrecognized practice in class action and complex litigation. Among recentsuccesses, HBSS has negotiated a pending $300 million settlement as leadcounsel in the DRAM memory antitrust litigation; a $340 million recovery onbehalf of Enron employees which is awaiting distribution; a $150 millionsettlement involving charges of illegally inflated charges for the drugLupron, and served as co-counsel on the Visa/MasterCard litigation whichresulted in a $3 billion settlement, the largest anti-trust settlement todate. HBSS also served as counsel in a $850 million settlement in theWashington Public Power Supply litigation and represented Washington and 12other states in lawsuits against the tobacco industry that resulted in thelargest settlement in the history of litigation. For a complete listing ofHBSS cases, visit http://www.hbsslaw.com.CONTACTS: Steve Berman (206) 623-7292 Hagens Berman Steve@hbsslaw.com Mark Firmani (206) 443-9357 Firmani + Associates Inc. Mark@firmani.com

SOURCE Hagens Berman

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