Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

October 19, 2013

Pfizer Inc., state civil complaints removed to federal court docket

BLUEFIELD — Court records at U.S. District Court in Bluefield reveal that from Oct. 10  to Oct. 14, 36 separate civil cases filed by plaintiffs that are seeking damages allegedly due to their use of defendant Pfizer’s product, Lipitor that were filed in McDowell County civil court have been removed to the civil court of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia and added to the federal docket.

Some of the civil cases that were filed in September in McDowell Circuit Court involved multiple plaintiffs, although the federal civil complaints were being entered on the docket individually. For example, there were 14 plaintiffs in a civil complaint entered in the McDowell courts on Sept. 4.

Of that group, four plaintiffs were listed as having McDowell County addresses, while two plaintiffs had Raleigh County addresses, one each in Lincoln, Tucker, Nicholas and Kanawha counties of West Virginia and the remaining four from various cities in New York state, according to court records.

The complaint filed Sept. 4, in McDowell County alleges that plaintiffs are seeking damages from Pfizer for what the complaint alleges is the “unsafe prescription drug Lipitor.” The complaint alleges that, “Lipitor is associated with, and cases, an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and/or blood glucose levels diagnostic for type 2 diabetes.

“Because of this increased risk of type 2 diabetes, Lipitor is also associated with, and causes an increased risk of heart disease, blindness, neuropathy, kidney disease and other dangerous conditions,” plaintiffs’ complaint alleges. The complaint states that McDowell County is a proper venue to bring the case because, “defendant does business in this county.”

The plaintiffs allege that prior to the February 2012 change, “Lipitor’s label had never warned patients of any potential relation between changes in blood sugar levels and taking Lipitor,” according to the complaint. The Sept. 5, complaint filed in McDowell County then goes on to allege the specific problems that each plaintiff experienced.

In its answer filed at U.S. District Court in Bluefield on Oct. 17, defendant Pfizer responded to each allegation of plaintiff’s complaint, pointing out that Lipitor “has been approved by the FDA as a safe and effective treatment for hyperlipidemia.” In addition, the defendant noted that “the FDA approved labeling for Lipitor which speaks for itself.”

With the exception of agreeing that Pfizer Inc. manufactures and markets Lipitor, “Pfizer denies that its conduct or Lipitor caused or contributed to plaintiff’s injuries.” Along with denying that Lipitor or Pfizer was responsible for the injuries alleged in the claim, Pfizer stated in its answer that, “the risks, if any, associated with the use of Lipitor are outweighed by it’s utility.”

Pfizer concluded its answer by stating that it, “demands judgment dismissing plaintiff’s amended complaint in its entirety.”

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages, refund of purchase costs paid, punitive damages, restitution and more. Local counsel for the defendant responded to a telephone call seeking comment by providing contact information for a Pfizer spokesperson. The local counsel also affirmed that Pfizer had filed an answer to the complaints in Bluefield. Local counsel for plaintiffs did not return a call on Friday afternoon seeking additional comment.

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