Pfizer resolving several lawsuits over its drugs

Associated Press Published: November 12, 2012
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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. expects to pay about $825 million to resolve government and civil lawsuits involving numerous medicines, according to a filing with regulators.

The quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing made Friday, in a 15-page section on legal issues, detailed recent agreements by the world's biggest drugmaker to end federal probes and civil lawsuits.

In October, Pfizer's Wyeth pharmaceuticals unit and the Justice Department reached a tentative agreement for Pfizer to pay a total of $491 million to resolve criminal and civil investigations of Wyeth's practices in marketing the organ transplant drug Rapamune.

Pfizer has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor federal "misbranding offense" and to pay about $234 million to resolve criminal allegations and $257 million to resolve civil allegations. The agreement should be finalized within months. New York-based Pfizer briefly mentioned it when it released its third-quarter results on Nov. 1.

In another case, Pfizer reached an agreement in October to pay $164 million to end multiple potential class action lawsuits regarding its painkiller Celebrex, which generates well over $1 billion in annual year sales. The case originated in 2003, when several class-action complaints against Pfizer, its Pharmacia unit and certain former Pharmacia officers were filed in federal court in New Jersey. Pfizer had acquired Pharmacia, of Peapack, N.J., early in 2003, mainly to acquire the rights to Celebrex.

The plaintiffs claimed Pfizer broke federal securities laws by misrepresenting results of a study of the gastrointestinal side effects of Celebrex. The drug was heavily promoted for reducing the risk of potentially dangerous stomach bleeding compared to other nonnarcotic painkillers. That agreement needs approval by the federal court.

In other recently settled cases:

—In November, Pfizer reached a settlement agreement to pay $67.5 million to resolve an investors' class action lawsuit against the Wyeth unit and some former Wyeth officers and employees. It accused them of illegally misrepresenting the safety of Pristiq, Wyeth's drug for hot flashes, night sweats and other menopause symptoms, while it was under review for potential approval.