CELEBREX is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug -- specifically a "COX-2 inhibitor" -- which is prescribed to relieve pain and swelling. Since its 1999 introduction in Canada, it has typically been used to treat arthritis, acute pain, acute migraine headaches and menstrual pain and discomfort. Celebrex is manufactured by Pfizer Inc. Celebrex has been under higher scrutiny since the worldwide recall of Vioxx in September, 2004 and repeated calls for recall of Celebrex and Bextra (another drug in the same family).
The suit was filed last week in the Supreme Court of British Columbia by the law firm of Poyner Baxter of North Vancouver, which works predominantly in the field of class action suits. These actions follow in the wake of last fall's Vioxx controversy (also the subject of a Poyner Baxter action on behalf of British Columbia victims). Merck and Company recalled Vioxx because of the significantly increased risk to patients of cardiovascular events, including strokes and heart attacks. This worldwide attention cast the spotlight on Pfizer's Celebrex, a drug prescribed for the same conditions for which Vioxx had been used. (Related article: Tens of thousands of plaintiffs in Vioxx class action lawsuits)
Subsequently, similar alarming information has come forward from both scientists and patients concerning Celebrex. The Poyner Baxter statement of claim says, in part, "Celebrex has been associated with an increased risk of serious adverse cardiovascular complications, including but not limited to, heart attack, stroke, angina pectoris, atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, hematoma, irregular heartbeat, palpitation, premature ventricular contraction, tachycardia, venous insufficiency, cerebrovascular accident, congestive heart failure, deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, transient ischemic attack, unstable angina, and occlusion." (Related article: Celebrex safety update)
Unlike Vioxx, which was recalled, Celebrex continues to be sold, although, in December, 2004, Health Canada revoked approval for the drug for certain conditions and advised patients who were on long term 400 mg. daily doses to look for alternate medications. (Related article: Celebrex recall demanded)
The Poyner Baxter action claims that Pfizer was aware of these concerns as early as 2000 but continued to vigorously promote the drug, emphasizing its positive attributes to both physicians and patients, and either failing to disclose or minimizing any negative side effects. (Related article: Pfizer warned by FDA about misleading Celebrex ads) The patient who is named in this class action proceeding was prescribed Celebrex to treat muscle cramps in his calves and feet during 2003. Less than a year later, the lawsuit claims, he suffered the amputation of a toe, gangrene of the lower leg and subsequent surgery to repair a blood vessel.
Under B.C.'s "Class Proceedings Act," a suit is brought in the name of one individual as "representative of a class." Each of these actions cites the case of one person, but if certified by the Supreme Court, they will represent and potentially benefit everyone in the province who has suffered the negative consequences of using Celebrex.
Other drug links:
Oxycontin class action lawsuits
Nexium class action lawsuits