Pfizer hit with Lipitor suit

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 29, 2005, 11:14am

One day after successfully arguing a case out of Madison County, prescription drug maker Pfizer was hit with a wrongful death suit over its popular cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor.

In a suit filed Nov. 28 in Madison County, Eddie Settles claims his wife's death was due to the drug's defectiveness.

Delores Settles died Nov. 28, 2003. But, the complaint does not indicate the cause of her death, or the plaintiff's residence.

Circuit Judge George Moran transferred a product liability case against Pfizer to Cook County on Nov. 28, citing that Madison County was not the appropriate venue--even though some of the plaintiffs were from the Metro-East.

“The described acts of Pfizer were a direct and proximate cause of the severe, permanent and disabling injuries and resulting damages to Delores leading to her death,” the wrongful death suit states.

Damages sought by Settles do not exceed $75,000.

He is represented by Aaron Dickey and Robert Rowland of Edwardsville.

According to the complaint, Pfizer is liable for acts and omissions amounting to negligence, gross negligence and malice, including failing to:

  • Adequately warn Delores' physicians of the known or reasonably foreseeable danger that she would suffer a serious injury or death;

  • Use reasonable care in testing and inspecting Lipitor so as to ascertain whether or not they were safe for the purpose designed and sold;

  • Use reasonable care in implementing a safe design for Lipitor; and

  • Use reasonable care in the manner and method of warning Delores and her doctors as to the dangers of using Lipitor in high doses.

    Settles claims that Pfizer expressly and impliedly warranted that Lipitor was safe for its intended purpose, however Lipitor did not conform to those representations because it was not safe and has a high level of serious side effects.

    “Delores and her physician reasonably relied upon the skill and judgment of Pfizer as to whether Lipitor was of merchantable quality and safe and fit for its intended use,” the complaint states.

    Settles also claims Pfizer committed fraud when it represented the drug had characteristics and benefits it did not have and claims Pfizer failed to disclose information pertaining to the drug.

    “The failure to disclose the information was intended to induce Delores to purchase and take the drug when she would not have done so if the information would have been disclosed.

    Settles further claims that Pfizer made material misrepresentations which were false and which were either known to be false when made or asserted without knowledge of their truth.

    He claims Pfizer concealed information about the frequency of Lipitor-related "adverse event reports," including the number of deaths associated with its use.

    Settles is seeking a jury to determine the amount of the loss Delores has incurred, not only from a financial standpoint, but also in terms of mental anguish and other elements of damages sustained.

    “There are certain elements of damages provided by law that Settles is entitled to have the jury separately consider to determine the sum of money for each element that will fairly and reasonably compensate him,” the complaint states.

    The elements include medical expenses, physical pain, physical impairment, suffering and mental anguish.

    The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian.

    Settles also names Saint Anthony's Health Center and Mary Mason, M.D. both of Alton as respondents in discovery.

    About Lipitor

    Lipitor is an HMG CoA reductase inhibitor. It blocks the production of cholesterol in the body.

    Lipitor is used to reduce the amounts of LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides in your blood. Lipitor is also used to increase the level of HDL (good) cholesterol in blood.

    According to an audit by NDC Health Pharmaceutical of prescriptions sold in 2004, Pfizer sold 69,766,431prescriptions of Lipitor. Its nearest competitor, Zocor which is manufactured by Merck & Co. sold 27,234,005 prescriptions in 2004.

    Since the year 2000, Lipitor has trailed only one prescription medication, Vicoden or Hydrocodone, in nationwide sales.

    Worldwide, Lipitor is the best selling drug, however Pfizer is expected to lose ground in sales in 2006 for Lipitor because Zocor will become available in a generic form and many major health insurance carriers have recently announced they will be dropping Lipitor from "preferred drug lists" to smooth the way for lower costing generic drugs.

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