Pfizer wins round against Celebrex claims

A big score for Pfizer in court yesterday: New York's Supreme Court judges ruled that plaintiffs suing the drug maker over the pain treatment Celebrex don't have reliable evidence to prove it can cause heart attacks or strokes at the most commonly prescribed dose of 200 milligrams. "The scientific just not there," one of the justices said.

The ruling follows another, very similar decision in a San Francisco federal court in November. There, Judge Charles R. Breyer decided that the evidence against the 200 milligram dose was not "scientifically reliable."

Naturally, Pfizer is ready to claim victory. The majority of the Celebrex liability cases are in these two courts--and the company says these two decisions may cause many of the cases to be dismissed. If so, Pfizer will have side-stepped a major legal sinkhole that opened up when Celebrex and its infamous cousin Vioxx proved too risky for common use. Thousands of patients have sued Pfizer and Merck, Vioxx's maker; Merck recently announced a $4.85 billion settlement that could cover most of its remaining Vioxx cases.

But Pfizer's not totally out of the woods yet. The judges' ruling only covers the 200 milligram dose. Evidence about higher doses remains in play.

- see the release from Pfizer
- read this report for more