Metro-East Cox-2 users want their money back

By Steve Gonzalez | Feb 22, 2005


Four Metro-East consumers are leading a class action lawsuit against Pfizer, charging the company exaggerated the benefits of its drugs.

Ricky Lott of Madison, Gerald Sumner of Belleville, Sandy Becker of Pontoon Beach and Mike Baldwin of Smithton filed suit Feb. 18 in Madison County Circuit Court against the New York drugmaker, demanding refunds for the money they spent purchasing pain relievers Celebrex and Bextra.

“By virtue of their misrepresentations and concealment of the true extent of health hazards of Celebrex and Bextra, Pfizer was able to charge prices for the drugs that were far in excess of the fair market value that the drugs would have had,” the complaint states.

The plaintiffs say the drugs increased their risk of having a heart attack, while proving no more effective than aspirin or ibuprofen at treating inflammation or pain.

Known in the medical community as "Cox-2 inhibitors" Celebrex and Bextra, like Merck's Vioxx, are widely used to treat arthitis and muscle pain.

Unlike traditional over-the-counter pain relievers, the drugs do not result in gastrointestinal side effects, crucial for patients succeptible to ulcers and other stomach maladies.

Merck recalled Vioxx in fall 2004 after an internal study showed longtime users of the drug slightly increased their risk of a heart attack.

On Feb. 18, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel ruled that Vioxx was safe enough to be sold as its benefits outweighed its side effects.

The plaintiffs and potential class members will be represented by Stephen Tillery and Aaron Zigler of Korein Tillery of Swansea.

05 L 204 (3rd Circuit)

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