Pfizer Settlement Ends Most Painkiller Lawsuits


Pfizer Inc. has reached a deal to end over 90 percent of the personal injury lawsuits, comprising of nearly 7000 cases, over the pain relievers Celebrex and Bextra. The deal will cost Pfizer $894 million. The lawsuits were originally brought by plaintiffs or their families claiming the drugs caused heart attacks, strokes, and other injuries. Pfizer said it hopes to have the claims finalized by the end of the year.

The Pfizer deal also ends suits by patients and insurers to recover what they spent on the painkillers, as well as claims made by 33 states and the District of Columbia that Bextra was “improperly promoted” by Pfizer. Of the total $894 million settlement:

  • $745 million will go to settle personal injury cases
  • $60 million covers settlements with the attorneys general in 33 states and the District of Columbia
  • $89 million will go to cover consumer fraud class action cases for reimbursement of money spent on Celebrex and Bextra

Louisiana and Mississippi still have cases pending against Pfizer and the promotion of the painkillers.

While the settlement covers most parts of the lawsuits brought against Pfizer, it does not cover securities fraud litigation filed in connection with the drugs. Furthermore, the settlement comes as a result of state and federal judges ruling that the plaintiffs failed to present reliable scientific evidence that proves Celebrex can cause strokes or heart attacks at its prescribed dosage. Pfizer said this was the catalyst for the settlement due to the likelihood of protracted litigation that would be hard on patients, doctors, and – maybe most importantly where Pfizer is concerned – the shareholders. Early trading has Pfizer shares down 47 cents to $16.50, a drop of 2.8 percent.