July 2, 2004 - Pfizer to settle Illinois Rezulin suit
Pfizer Inc. has reached a $60 million settlement of a class action lawsuit over its Rezulin diabetes drug, pending upon final approval of the agreement, which has been preliminarily approved by the court and is subject to class notification, a hearing and court authorization. Rezulin was withdrawn from the market in March 2002 after about 100 people who took it had to have liver transplants or died from acute liver failure. Pfizer said the lawsuit also sought a refund for all Rezulin tablets purchased by the plaintiffs, who did not allege they had been injured by the drug.
Pfizer, the world's biggest drug maker, said it will establish a settlement fund which will finance diabetes research and compensate patients in Illinois who took Rezulin and can document medical expenses related to their treatment.
Pfizer is fighting off thousands of lawsuits claiming that Warner-Lambert, which was acquired by Pfizer three months after Rezulin was withdrawn, failed to inform the public of the drug's health risks.
"While Pfizer firmly believes this case has no merit," said Jeff Kindler, Pfizer's general counsel, "we've decided to resolve the matter to eliminate the expense and disruption of litigation that would take several years to work through."
The dollar amount of the settlement fund represents a little more than two days worth of sales of Pfizer's blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor.