33 States And Washington DC Settle With Pfizer

In October of 2008, Pfizer announced that the pharmaceutical company reached a settlement with 33 states and Washington D.C. to pay a total of $60 million dollars for its alleged misrepresentation of its pain relief drugs, Bextra and Celebrex. This $60 million dollars settlement is apart of an $894 million dollar settlement which covers approximately 90 percent of the company’s lawsuits against the two drugs. This settlement included approximately 7,000 personal injury cases against Bextra and Celebrex. $745 million of this settlement was allotted for the personal injury cases and another $89 million went to insurers and consumers for consumer fraud claims.

Pfizer, which is headquartered in New York City, introduced Bextra into the market in early 2002 after the drug’s FDA approval in November of 2001. However, in 2004 COX-2 inhibitors like Bextra came under fire for serious side effects such as stomach pain, serious skin reactions, vomiting, upper respiratory infections, and cardiovascular problems. These issues with COX-2 inhibitors first became well-known when Merck’s drug, Vioxx was associated with these major risks. Merck eventually withdrew Vioxx from the market in 2004.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released advisories in late 2004 and early 2005 stating the possible health risks associated with Bextra. Soon after, the American Heart Association affirmed the advisories released by the FDA. Reports of serious side effects continued to be reported at the time following these advisories which lead to the FDA asking Pfizer to withdraw Bextra from U.S. and European markets in April of 2005. The FDA also requested for Pfizer to include a warning on its Celebrex label.

The $60 million dollar portion of the $894 settlement is a result of an investigation beginning in 2003 which consisted of 33 states and its attorneys general accusing Pfizer of misrepresenting Celebrex as being more safe and effective than traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. More traditional anti-inflammatory drugs include Advil and Aleve. The investigation went on to include Pfizer’s Bextra as well when the investigation found that Pfizer had created an aggressive and deceptive campaign that positioned Bextra for purposes not approved by the FDA. Certain strategies included in these campaigns included the misrepresentation of Bextra’s safety, providing medical specialists with thousands of samples of high dose Bextra when these specialists could only possibly use Bextra as off-label, and also influencing doctors through paid consultancies and paid, extravagant weekends to exclusive hotels and resorts.

As part of the settlement, Pfizer must now receive approval from the FDA for all future television advertisement campaigns. Any FDA modifications and / or changes to the advertisement must be complied with before airing. The FDA now also has the power to recommend Pfizer to delay any consumer advertisements of new pain relief drugs for up to a year and half if the FDA so chooses.

The surrounding states of Keefe Law Firm’s headquarters including New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania received approximately $7.5 million in settlements which is broken down as following:


Settlement Amount

New Jersey

$2.1 Million

New York

$1.2 Million


$1.7 Million


$2.5 Million

The remaining $52.5 million dollars of this portion of the Pfizer settlement was shared between the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

If you or someone you know has experienced side effects related to COX-2 inhibitors such as Bextra and Celebrex, seek immediate medical attention and then speak to an experienced defective drug attorney. Please feel free to contact Keefe Law Firm for a free legal consultation.

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