EUFAULA—A judge set a June 6 trial date for a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims the arthritis medication Celebrex was to blame for a stroke she suffered last year.

Barring delays, plaintiff’s attorneys said Monday the trial could be the nation’s first over the popular pain medicine by Pfizer Inc.

Rosie Ware contends Celebrex was to blame for a stroke she suffered a year ago at age 53. She claims Pfizer and companies it has since purchased understated the risks of the drug and failed to warn consumers of possible side effects.

An attorney for Ware, Jere Beasley of Montgomery, said about 450 lawsuits have been filed over Celebrex.

The drug’s Web site includes a warning that Celebrex may increase the risk of stroke or heart attack in some people.

Celebrex is part of a class of drugs called cox-2 inhibitors. It is the only one of its type remaining on the market after Merck & Co.’s Vioxx and Pfizer’s Bextra were withdrawn because of safety concerns.

Merck withdrew Vioxx in September 2004 after a study showed it doubled patients’ risk of heart attacks and strokes after 18 months of use. The company now faces more than 9,600 lawsuits over Vioxx. Beasley’s firm recently lost the first Federal Vioxx case when a jury absolved Merck of any responsibility in the fatal heart attack suffered by a Florida man.

Pfizer is funding a study to determine whether Celebrex leads to more heart problems than other pain relievers.



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