Pfizer Judge Certifies Class Action Over Celebrex, Bextra

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) failed to block class- action status for investors who sued the world’s biggest drugmaker over claims it misled them about the prospects of two chronic pain-relief drugs, Celebrex and Bextra.

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in New York, who is presiding over a series of investor suits filed in 2004, yesterday ruled that the main class of plaintiffs will be those who purchased stock from Oct. 31, 2000, to Oct. 19, 2005.

The stockholders claimed New York-based Pfizer and its top officers deliberately hid or misrepresented the results of studies that suggested the drugs may have adverse cardiovascular effects.

“Over the past seven years, this court has become familiar with both the parties to and the subject matter of this action, and so believes that concentrating this litigation in this forum would promote judicial economy,” Swain said in her 30-page ruling.

Swain said there’s an adequate similarity of claims that would benefit from granting the request for class-action status, which joins individual cases and allows plaintiffs to pool financial and legal resources.

Heart Risks

Celebrex was linked to heart risks at high doses in research released in November 2004, sending shares down as much as 7.6 percent on Nov. 4, 2004. Bextra was among the drugs that a U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviewer identified as unsafe that month.

Swain has’t ruled on the merits of the lawsuit.

“We are disappointed in the court’s order and will continue to vigorously defend the litigation,” Chris Loder, a spokesman for Pfizer, said in an e-mail. “It is important to note that the order does not address the underlying merits of the litigation, which we strongly dispute.”

The cases are In Re Pfizer Inc Securities Litigation, 04- cv-9866, 05-MD-1688, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in New York at pathurtado@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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