Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) has a sting on lawsuits and inquiries on its hands.
The pharmaceutical manufacturer settled a shareholder class action which accused the company of misrepresenting clinical trial results for Celebrex and U.S. regulators have asked the company to explain how it reported its profits in 2011.
Now the company is facing a lawsuit regarding its drug Chantix, which is prescribed to quit smoking.
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A U.S. District Judge has ordered the pharmaceutical company’s Chief Executive Officer, Ian Read, to testify in person in federal court. The company is being sued over claims that the drug caused a Minnesota man to commit suicide. The lawsuit, brought in November 2007 by the man’s family, alleged that the drug did not have sufficient safety warnings. According to federal court records, the Whitely lawsuit is one of 2,500 similar suits pending in the state of Alabama.
Read was subpoenaed by District Judge Inge Johnson to appear at the trial, which begins on October 22. However, Pfizer executives argued that the judge’s order violates civil procedure. In the appeal, according to Bloomberg, the company’s lawyers stated procedure “prohibits service of subpoenas more than 100 miles from the courthouse.”
However, the company acknowledged in its appeal, “On the flip side, the burden on the Pfizer witnesses — and in particular to its chairman and CEO — is enormous.”
While Pfizer has denied that Chantix was responsible for the suicide, according to Bloomberg, Johnson noted in court papers from July that Pfizer had provided warnings on package inserts since 2006.
Increasing concerns over transparency have been hounding the pharmaceutical industry recently. In a major step towards amending its corporate practices, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) announced Thursday that results of all clinical trials will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and summary information will be posted on the company’s website.