Pfizer Pays Millions for Misrepresentation of Celebrex

Drug giant, Pfizer, Inc., agrees to pay $164 million to a group of investors for misrepresenting the clinical trial result data for its popular drug, Celebrex. Court papers filed in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey confirm the settlement. Pfizer was to go to trial in just under two weeks to defend the allegations.

The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group of investors who claim that they were misled by Pfizer regarding the popular arthritis drug. The Alaska Electrical Pension Fund invested in the company, but it now claims it was misled and is seeking to recoup its investment.

Troubles began back in 2002 when Pfizer acquired Pharmacia Corporation, the manufacturer of Celebrex. By 2003, shareholders had sued Pfizer for misrepresentation of Celebrex, accusing the company of representing the drug to be safer than was shown in clinical trial data.

Years of on-again, off-again litigation ensued with Pfizer eventually asking the Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court denied the petition and the case was sent back to the lower courts in 2010.

Pfizer attempted to have the case dismissed in January 2012, but the motion was denied and the trial was set for October. Two weeks before trial, an agreement was reached that awarded the investors $164 million. Attorneys for the plaintiffs are also seeking a contingency fee from the defendant for 27.5 percent of the settlement amount or an additional $45.1 million.

Celebrex and Vioxx Share a Similar History

Celebrex is Pfizer’s fifth biggest selling medicine, with annual sales of about $2.5 billion. Celebrex is in the same drug class as the now withdrawn drug Vioxx, manufactured by Merck. Vioxx also faced a similar class action lawsuit from investors who also alleged wrongdoing regarding the misrepresentation of the safety of Vioxx. Merck agreed to a settlement of the lawsuit back in 2010. With the withdrawal of Vioxx from the market, Celebrex enjoyed a notable increase in sales.

However, warnings have been raised that Celebrex may present the same risks for adverse events as its former rival Vioxx. Both drugs are known as Cox-2 inhibitors, which are classified as pain killers.

Pfizer spokesman, Christoper Loder, confirmed in a statement that Pfizer had, in fact, reached a settlement with the plaintiffs. However, Pfizer does not admit to any wrongdoing in the presentation of Celebrex clinical trial data.