CalPERS, others battle Pfizer separately on Bextra shareholder claims

A new front has opened up against Pfizer in its fight to defend itself against shareholders who claim that it was not upfront about the dangers of pain drugs Celebrex and Bextra to patients and--by extension--to shareholders.

Twelve large investors, including the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the country's largest pension fund, have brought a suit separate from the class action that Pfizer ($PFE) already faces, Reuters reports.

The consolidation of individual suits only happened in March when a judge decided that lawsuits against Pfizer over the outlook for pain-relief drugs Celebrex and Bextra could be pursued together. Shareholders have sued, claiming that the drug company was not upfront about studies that linked the drugs to cardiovascular problems. When investors became fully aware in November 2004 that research tied Celebrex to heart risks at high doses, Pfizer's shares took a 7.6% dive. That same month, Bextra was among drugs that FDA reviewers said were unsafe.

As Reuters points out, "opting out" to pursue a case separately from a class action has become a bit of a trend. Some lawyers believe they have a better chance of winning more money that way.

- read the Reuters story