Pfizer wins dismissal of U.S. investor class action ahead of trial

Pfizer won the dismissal Tuesday of a long-running shareholder class action accusing the company of misleading investors about the safety of its Celebrex and Beltra pain-relieving drugs.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Laurea Taylor Swain in New York came ahead of a Sept. 9 trial in the case, which investors launched in 2004 and followed an earlier ruling precluding testimony by the plaintiffs’ damages expert.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, James Sabella, acknowledged at a May hearing that “without a damages expert a securities fraud trial can’t be tried.”

They sought to amend a report issued by their expert, Daniel Fischel, a former dean of the law school at the University of Chicago whose methodology for calculating damages Swain found to be flawed.

Slain:

“Plaintiffs’ failure to proffer admissible loss causation and damages evidence is fatal to plaintiffs’ claims.”

The class action, which Swain previously certified, covered investors who bought Pfizer stock between October 31, 2000, and October 19, 2005.

Concerns about the safety of Celebrex and Bextra began to mount following the release of medical studies in late 204, when rival Merck withdrew its own Vioxx drug from the market because of associated cardiovascular risks.

The lawsuit contended before the fall of 2004. Pfizer and its executives hid material results of tests conducted started in 1998 regarding the safety of Celebrex and Bextra that indicated similar risks.

Revenues from Celebrex and Bextra fell by over $2 billion in the first nine months of 2005 after the safety concerns were made public, according to the lawsuit.

Pfizer pulled Bextra from the U.S. market in April 2005 at the recommendation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In September 2009, Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle a U.S. Department of Justice probe into the marketing of drugs including Bextra.

Source: Reuters

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