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Pfizer wraps up Celebrex suit in $164M settlement

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Two weeks before some high-profile shareholder allegations were scheduled to hit court, Pfizer ($PFE) agreed to pay $164 million to settle. The investor class action had claimed Pfizer misrepresented Celebrex trial data to make its pain pill appear safer than its rivals.

The class action originated way back in 2003, soon after Pfizer acquired Celebrex in its buyout of rival drugmaker Pharmacia. Investors sued Pfizer and former executives, accusing them of violating securities laws, Reuters reports.

The lawsuits claimed that the company and its officials misled investors about Celebrex trial data, implying that the arthritis drug was safer than less expensive drugs. A judge certified the class action in 2007, and after some wrangling in appeals court, a trial was scheduled for Oct. 22.

Celebrex is a Cox-2 inhibitor, the class of drugs that also encompassed Merck's ($MRK) now-withdrawn Vioxx and Pfizer's Vioxx rival, Bextra. Merck also faced investor claims over Vioxx safety disclosures.

Pfizer spokesman Christopher Loder told Reuters that the longstanding shareholder suit had indeed been settled, but the company still denies any wrongdoing. The $164 million deal follows other Celebrex and Bextra settlements, including $894 million's worth of payments to wrap up state marketing lawsuits and personal injury claims.

- read the Reuters news

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