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Pfizer announces $894M Celebrex/Bextra settlement

Posted Oct 17 2008 12:07pm

It’s being widely reported this morning (See, for example, the WSJ article here and the AP article here ) that Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) has agreed to settle the bulk of the lawsuits against it related to the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes from the painkillers Celebrex and Bextra.

The $894 Million settlement includes $745 million to settle 90% of the personal injury suits brought by patients who were allegedly physically injured by the drugs, $60 million to resolve primarily Bextra suits brought by Attorneys General in 33 states and the District of Columbia, and $89 million to settle suits brought by consumers and “third party payors” who alleged that they defrauded by Pfizer’s marketing and failure to disclose the risks of the drugs into paying for them when they otherwise would not have.

A number of members of Prescription Access Litigation’s coalition are plaintiffs in that last category of lawsuits: Health Care for All, Wisconsin Citizen Action, United Senior Action of Indiana, North Carolina Fair Share, New England Carpenters Health Benefits Fund, CalPIRG, and Commonwealth Care Alliance. Information about the suits that these PAL members are involved is available here.

In 2005, we gave Pfizer one of our coveted Bitter Pill Awards for its deceptive marketing of Celebrex: The The Speak No Evil Award: For Concealing Drug Risks and Exaggerating Benefits in the Name of Profits.

Even after the increased risks of Celebrex, Vioxx and Bextra became common knowledge, Pfizer kept Celebrex on the market, and even resumed TV ads for it, running an unusually long ad which extensively described the drug’s risks, but sought to downplay the risks by claiming that all NSAIDS (the class of drugs Celebrex is in) carry the same risks. Here is the ad:

At the time of this entry, no further details about the settlement were available, and the settlement itself had apparently not been filed in Court ( Pfizer’s press release described the settlement as “Agreements in Principle”)

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