Granite City woman sues Pfizer

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 15, 2004, 5:33am

Barbara Mihalich of Granite City filed a class action lawsuit against Pfizer on Nov. 12 alleging the drug maker violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

The suit, which seeks up to $75,000 per class member, alleges Pfizer failed to provide proper warning regarding Bextra usage to doctors and consumers in package inserts and in reference manuals for physicians.

Mihalich also alleges that Pfizer spent a great deal of money trying to convince doctors to prescribe Bextra while at the same time limiting relevant scientific data that could have given doctors an actual basis to make informed decisions.

By misrepresenting the potential uses of Bextra to doctors, and concealing scientific data on its safety, Pfizer deliberately misbranded Bextra, Mihalich alleges. The omission caused her to be prescribed a drug that was not effective and exposed her to dangerous side effects, the complaint states.

Mihalich alleges that Pfizer knew that Bextra was being sold to patients as a safe and efficacious drug, in spite of contrary data. In turn, sales of Bextra and profits skyrocketed far in excess of what they would have been if Pfizer had properly informed consumers and doctors.

Excess sales which Pfizer gained by misrepresenting Bextra enabled the pharmaceutical to receive many millions of dollars more than they would have earned if the company had been honest about the drug in the first place, according to the complaint.

Bextra is a strong cox-2 specific inhibitor approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2003, for treating arthritis. It is in the class of drugs called NSAID’s.

Vioxx, manufactured by Merck and Company, was pulled from the market nearly two months ago because studies showed it could lead to heart problems. Bextr aand Vioxx are in the same drug category, as is Pfizer’s, Celebrex.

Pfizer issued a voluntary letter to doctors describing the increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events from Bextra ingestion on Oct. 19.

Based in New York, Pfizer also makes Viagra, Listerine, Visine, Benadryl, Celebrex, Zoloft, Lipitor, Rolaids, Sudafed, and Neosporin.

Mihalich will be represented by Elizabeth V. Heller of the Edwardsville firm Goldenberg, Miller, Heller & Antognoli, P.C.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian.

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