Brigham Young University and Pfizer Inc., the giant drug manufacturer, have settled a lawsuit for $450 million. At issue was whether BYU had been cheated out of billions of dollars in royalties for aiding in the development of the highly-successful anti-pain drug Celebrex. Settlement terms are confidential in the case which had been in litigation for nearly six years. But the New York-based company has reported it took a $450 million charge against its earnings to settle the case.
BYU claimed in the lawsuit, filed in October 2006, that professor Daniel Simmons had discovered an enzyme and a gene called Cox 2 that would allow for development of an anti-inflammation drug that did not have the long-term side effects of aspirin. The school entered into a contract with Monsanto for a joint research project to develop a drug with BYU to receive royalties. The school claimed that the discovery was a key to development of Celebrex, but Monsanto, which eventually became part of Pfizer, arbitrarily canceled the contract. It was contended that Monsanto did not place Dr. Simmons on patents and misappropriated his work to create the drug. The product was one of the most financially successful of all time, bringing in revenues of about $35 billion.
As part of the settlement, Pfizer said that BYU will establish a Dan Simmons Chair in recognition of Dr. Simmons. Interestingly, Pfizer had argued in court documents that Dr. Simmons’ discovery was not a key to development of Celebrex, and instead claimed development was largely the result of the work of its own scientists.