On the heels of the $4.85 Billion Vioxx settlement, the Multi-District Litigation (MDL) Court for the Bextra/Celebrex litigation has set the first Bextra trial for May 5, 2008.
Pfizer is the company that manufactures both Bextra and Celebrex. Bextra, a Cox-2 inhibitor, was not as widely prescribed as Vioxx and Celebrex, which are in the same class of drugs. This is because Bextra was a second generation Cox-2 inhibitor and was not put on the market until 2002. Celebrex and Vioxx went on the market in 1999. Nonetheless, Bextra was prescribed to millions of patients, and in 2004 exceeded $1.2 billion in prescription sales.
Similar to the manufacturers of Vioxx, Pfizer had early signs that Bextra data showed a potential increase in cardiovascular risks associated with Bextra. Specifically, a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery study (CABG 1) in July, 2000 showed an increased cardiovascular signal with Bextra in high risk patients.
A Pfizer clinician even commented on the “Vioxx-like” safety profile of Bextra when compared to Vioxx. After other studies indicated similar risk, the CABG 2 study completed in January 2004 echoed the CABG 1 study, by showing a significant increased risk of heart attacks and strokes linked to Bextra. Only months after Merck removed Vioxx from the market, on September 30, 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that Pfizer remove Bextra from the market because of the increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, among other risks.
The Bextra/Celebrex MDL court, located in San Francisco, California, has ordered limited discovery to be taken in a group of 45 Bextra and Celebrex MDL cases. From this group of cases, the presiding MDL judge has recently announced that he wanted the parties to have several Bextra cases ready for trial on May 5, 2008.
The court only plans to try one case at a time, but wants several Bextra cases ready in the event that any case set first is resolved before the first trial date. The MDL court’s commitment to allow these cases to go to trial will help determine the value and ultimate resolution of these cases. Navan Ward and Frank Woodson from Beasley Allen law firm are involved in this litigation.