Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Lawsuit

Since the approval of cholesterol drug Lipitor, Pfizer pharmaceutical has become a leader in pharmaceutical sales. Since 1996 sales of Lipitor have exceeded $125 billion and the drug has been named one of the top largest selling pharmaceutical along with several other Pfizer products.

Primarily used for lowering blood cholesterol, Lipitor works by blocking a type of protein made in your body, also known as an enzyme, in the liver. The less of this enzyme your liver produces, the less cholesterol is made. Lipitor can also lower the risk of heart attack and stroke among patients with diabetes.

History of Pfizer

It is estimated that anywhere between 11 million and 30 million people use statins, the class of drug used to inhibit the production of liver enzyme that causes high cholesterol (HMG-CoA reductase). The number is wide-ranging as the number of statins available has increased over the years.

With an increase in the number of persons using such drugs, the repercussions have also increased as has the potential for the drug to be recalled due to manufacturing errors.

A brief history of Pfizer:

  • Charles Pfizer & Charles Erhart open Charles Pfizer & Company in Brooklyn, New York. Their first product is a better tasting anti-parasitic commonly used to treat intestinal worms.
  • In 1862 Pfizer launches cream of tartar and tartaric acid both of which are vital for the food and chemical industries.
  • The production of citric acid begins in 1880 and the company’s popularity soars.
  • By 1906 the company’s sales exceed $3 million.
  • The advent of a fermentation free method for producing ascorbic acid makes Pfizer the leading producer of the vitamin C. Further production brings forth vitamin B-12, Riboflavin, and Vitamin A.
  • 1944, the company becomes the leading mass producer of Penicillin.
  • Terramycin, an anti-biotic is the first pharmaceutical sold under the Pfizer name in 1950.

Since the 1960s Pfizer pharmaceuticals has continued to expand with the creation of other antibiotics, diabetes drugs, hypertension medication, antifungals, antidepressants, and much more. The growth of the company’s products also increased the number of litigation proceedings they have been involved with.

Other Pfizer Drugs & Legal Claims

Pfizer pharmaceutical has faced a variety of legal issues for their own pharmaceuticals as well as acquisitions from other companies. In 1968 the company acquired Quigley Company which sold asbestos tainted insulation products until the 1970s and a March 2011 settlement with a committee formed by asbestos claimants agreed to receive $800 million to existing and future claimants.

Some further legal issues Pfizer pharmaceutical has been involved in include:

  • Bjork-Shiley Heart Valve – in 1979 Pfizer purchased Shiley Inc. which produced a mechanical heart valve prosthesis. The valve was defective and eventually led to the death of 500 persons. The United States Courts ruled against Pfizer for $200 million.
  • Blue-Cross Blue-Shield filed a lawsuit against Pfizer for reportedly illegally marketing their drugs Bextra, Geodon, and Lyrica. Similar cases have been brought against the company which they settled with the federal government. However, Pfizer denies the allegations of illegal marketing efforts.
  • In 2005 Pfizer removed Bextra from the U.S market on recommendation by the Federal Drug Administration due to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke as well as the serious risk of a sometimes fatal skin reaction.
  •  In 2012 Birmingham Young University (BYU) and Pfizer settled a lawsuit after BYU claimed that one of their professors had discovered an enzyme and gene that would allow for the development of Celebrex and had entered into a contract with Monsanto to further the research developments. Monsanto eventually became part of Pfizer and the contract was cancelled. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.