U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain has granted class action status to a group of investors who filed lawsuits against Pfizer alleging the company misled them regarding the safety of the two chronic pain relief drugs Bextra and Celebrex. The class includes all investors who purchase stock in Pfizer between October 31, 2000 and October 19, 2005.
Judge Swain said in her 10-page ruling, “Over the past seven years, this court has become familiar with both the parties to and the subject matter of this action, and so believes that concentrating this litigation in this forum would promote judicial economy.”
According to the class action lawsuit, Pfizer misrepresented and deliberately hid studies that suggested the pain relief medications could have serious cardiovascular side effects, Bloomberg reports. Celebrex was linked to heart risks at high doses, and Bextra was found unsafe by an FDA reviewer. Pfizer has paid nearly $1 billion in settlement fees in lawsuits filed by persons injured by the two drugs. Celebrex remains on the market, while Bextra was pulled in 2005 after being linked to blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and serious injuries including the potentially fatal condition, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.
Pfizer spokesperson Chris Loder wrote in an email that the company is “disappointed in the court’s order and will continue to vigorously defend the litigation,” Bloomberg reported. “It is important to note that the order does not address the underlying merits of the litigation, which we strongly dispute.”