Pfizer wants Tillery to cough up plaintiffs' Celebrex and Bextra Rx bills

Steve Korris Feb. 27, 2008, 4:51am

Drug maker Pfizer has delivered 36 million pages of facts about painkillers Celebrex and Bextra to class action attorney Stephen Tillery, but he won't tell Pfizer who prescribed the pills for his clients or who paid for the pills.

On Feb. 19, Pfizer asked Madison County Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn to compel answers to its questions.

"Complete pharmacy records are vital to discovering the details of plaintiffs' use of Celebrex and Bextra and are relevant to plaintiffs' claim that they have been injured due to the prescription and purchase of Celebrex and Bextra," attorney Robert Shultz wrote.

Tillery's clients claim economic injury, not physical injury. They seek damages equal to the difference between what they paid and what they would have paid if they had known the truth about the drugs.

According to Shultz, Tillery has refused to produce information about how much his clients or their insurers paid for the pills.

Shultz claims Tillery hasn't produced records of the doses that doctors prescribed or the number of pills plaintiffs took.

Nor has Tillery divulged whether any client sought a refund or received one, Shultz wrote.

Tillery sued Pfizer in 2005, on behalf of Ricky Lott, Gerald Sumner, Sandy Becker and Mike Baldwin.

He alleged that Pfizer deceptively promoted Celebrex and Bextra as superior to other non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Pfizer served questions on the plaintiffs in September and requested production of documents.

In December, Shultz wrote, Tillery objected to most of the requests and provided less than 20 pages of heavily redacted pharmacy records.
Tillery claimed physician patient privilege and a constitutional right to privacy.

Shultz responded in his motion that the right to privacy "does not protect against disclosure of medical information relevant to a plaintiff's claim."

"Pfizer is entitled to investigate the decisions of plaintiffs' prescribing physicians in order to respond to plaintiffs' claims…," Shultz wrote.

Noting that Tillery alleges deception in advertising, Shultz argued that the influence of advertising on physicians was directly relevant.

"Plaintiffs have not completely answered whether they or their physician saw any allegedly misleading advertisements or promotional materials," he wrote.

"Plaintiffs merely state that they 'recall seeing' advertisements either in television or magazines, but fail to describe the date and substance of any advertising and fail to state how they were misled in any way," he wrote.

Shultz seeks to learn about reasons why doctors prescribed Celebrex and Bextra, the responses of the patients, and other medicines they took.

He also wants to know what physicians told patients about the pills.

Mendelsohn has tentatively set an April 22 hearing on Tillery's motion to certify a class action.

First, Mendelsohn will hold hearings on a Pfizer motion to transfer the case to Cook County and a motion to dismiss.

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