Five plaintiffs claim they suffered heart attacks, strokes or other serious injuries and economic damages as a result of taking the pain-reliever Celebrex in a suit filed April 5 in Madison County Circuit Court.
The 27-count complaint was filed by attorneys John Driscoll of Brown & Crouppen in St. Louis and Navan Ward, Jr., Andy Birchfield, Jr., and Gerald B. Taylor, Jr. of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles of Montgomery, Ala. The plaintiffs' team recently litigated Madison County's first Vioxx trial in which the jury found for the defendant Merck & Co. last month.
Defendants include Pfizer, Pharmacia, Monsanto, G.D. Searle and Walgreen Co.
The plaintiffs claim that Celebrex is defectively designed, inadequately tested, dangerous to human health and lacked proper warnings as to the dangers associated with its use.
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998, Celebrex is a COX-2-specific inhibitor used for treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Celebrex is in the same category as Vioxx, which was recalled by its manufacturer, Merck & Co., on Sept. 30, 2004, and has since faced an avalanche of injury claims across the country.
The new suit claims that Pfizer launched one of the largest "direct-to-consumer" marketing campaigns ever undertaken for prescription drugs for Celebrex in late 1999.
"Pfizer's massive marketing campaign fraudulently and misleadingly depicted Celebrex as a much safer and more effective pain reliever than less expensive traditional NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)," the complaint states.
The suit also claims the plaintiffs properly used Celebrex, but they would not have had the defendants properly disclosed the risks associated with the drug.
The suit claims that the defendants intentionally "concealed, suppressed, omitted, and misrepresented" results of clinical trials which showed Celebrex posed serious cardiovascular risks to users.