Pfizer Inc. has started settling cases over its Celebrex and Bextra painkillers, a New York attorney said Friday.
The company began negotiating settlements with individual plaintiffs firms, said David Ratner, an attorney with Morelli Ratner. “It’s been going on for a few weeks,” he said.
Ratner, a member of a steering committee of lawyers for the drugs’ users, said he wasn’t familiar with specific firms involved in the settlements.
More than 3,000 patients have alleged that the drugs caused heart attacks and strokes. Celebrex, in the same class of medicines as Merck & Co.'s recalled Vioxx, is New York-based Pfizer’s third-best-selling drug. The product, which is still on the market, generated $2.3 billion in sales in 2007, a 12% increase from the previous year.
The law firms involved in the case that reported the settlements cover more than 200 of the thousands of people who sued over the drugs, the Wall Street Journal said. Firms have been offered $40,000 to $50,000 a client to settle Bextra cases and as much as $200,000 each for Celebrex, the Journal said, citing an unidentified lawyer.
Pfizer withdrew Bextra in April 2005 after it was tied to a potentially fatal skin condition.
The first Bextra trial, scheduled to begin Monday in federal court in San Francisco, was postponed until May 29. Plaintiff Beverly Haslam claims her husband died from a heart attack after taking the drug for 13 months to treat arthritis.