Judge rules plaintiffs havent proven Pfizers Celebrex link to heart attacks

Judge Charles R. Breyer of San Francisco is presiding over the Pfizer case. Source: Pepperdine University
Pfizer on Monday won a federal ruling that might wipe out some lawsuits alleging that the drug maker's painkiller Celebrex caused heart attacks and strokes, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer of San Francisco ruled that the plaintiffs in the litigation have not presented scientifically reliable evidence that Celebrex caused heart attacks or strokes when taken at a daily dosage of 200 mg, which Pfizer told The WSJ is the most common dosage.

According to court documents, the litigation relates to two prescription non-steriodal anti-inflammatory medications, Celebrex and Bextra, which, during certain periods of time, were marketed by Pharmacia and Pfizer. Celebrex and Bextra are known as COX-2 inhibitors, designed to inhibit the COX-2 enzyme without targeting a related enzyme known as COX-1.

Pfizer voluntarily suspended U.S. sales of Bextra on April 7, 2005, but Celebrex is still on the market.

The WSJ reported that there are more than 3,000 Celebrex plaintiffs, but it isn't clear how many the ruling will affect.

New York plaintiffs' lawyer Paul Pennock of Weitz & Luxenberg, who handles Celebrex cases, told The WSJ that about two-thirds of the Celebrex cases will be unaffected by the ruling, but those involving 200-milligram dosages will be eliminated.

Allen Waxman, Pfizer general council, announced that the company is “pleased with the decision of the federal court, which recognizes the lack of any credible evidence linking Celebrex, at its most common dosage form, with heart attacks or strokes.”