Pfizer starts settling Celebrex claims

Pfizer is starting to settle the thousands of lawsuits over painkillers Celebrex and Bextra, the Wall Street Journal reports. Three groups of plaintiffs who allege that the meds caused heart attacks and strokes--some 200 claimants in all--are involved in the tentative settlement deals. Just in time, too; the first Bextra trial was set to begin today, but was postponed to allow time for negotiations.

One lawyer said Pfizer had offered an average of $200,000 per client in Bextra cases and $40,000 to $50,000 on average for Celebrex claims. Pfizer lawyers have said that the company will pay up to $500 million to resolve all the cases. Pfizer hasn't yet commented on the settlement news.

Rather than coming up with a blanket deal like Merck did in with Vioxx litigation, Pfizer is said to be working out its Celebrex/Bextra cases on a law firm-by-law firm basis. (Of course, Merck started out defending its Vioxx claims on a case-by-case basis.) The three drugs are all Cox-2 inhibitors; Celebrex is the only one still sold in the U.S. The other two were taken off the market amid safety concerns.

- read the story in the Wall Street Journal
- see the WSJ Health Blog item

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