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Pfizer is breathing a big sigh of relief as a federal judge in San Francisco ruled yesterday that plaintiff’s attorneys have not produced reliable evidence that 200mg dosage of the painkiller Celebrex caused heart attacks or strokes. It is currently unclear how many of the 3,000 claims against Pfizer involved the 200mg medium dosage. Regardless how much of dent this places in the legal headaches Pfizer has been suffering, it will undoubtedly spell some form of relief.

Celebrex is a painkiller in the same family as Vioxx and Bextra, however; Celebrex has not been withdrawn from the market. This in turn makes the path for legal compensation more difficult for plaintiffs. Celebrex was branded with the FDA’s most stringent warning, known as a “black box” warning but has not had the same degree of complications as Vioxx and others that were removed from the market.

“We think the decision is incorrect,” says New York plaintiffs’ lawyer Paul Hanly Jr., who is handling 10 Celebrex cases. If the ruling stands, he says, it could be damaging to plaintiffs. Pfizer could move to summarily dismiss Celebrex suits in which plaintiffs claim injuries from having ingested daily dosages of 200 milligrams. “Unless there is a miracle, summary judgment will be granted,” Mr. Hanly says. If that happens, the plaintiffs could appeal.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.

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