Pfizer Settles Suit Involving Celebrex

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Brigham Young University over the creation of the prescription pain reliever Celebrex. A jury trial had been scheduled to start later this month.

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Pfizer, one of the worlds largest drug companies, will pay Brigham Young University nearly half a billion dollars to settle a patent related lawsuit involving the company's blockbuster painkiller Celebrex.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports, the settlement comes as the case was about to go to trial.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Celebrex is one of the most successful commercial drugs ever. And Brigham Young University claimed that it was entitled to more than $9 billion in royalties. The university said that's because one of its professors, Daniel Simmons, helped create Celebrex. Pfizer maintains the terms of the research agreement with the scientist had been complied with. Pfizer revealed the $450 million settlement amount in a routine regulatory filing.

ANDREW TORRANCE: I would characterize it as a sizeable settlement.

KAUFMAN: But University of Kansas law professor Andrew Torrance says the number doesn't look quite so big when you consider that Celebrex has generated roughly revenues of roughly $35 billion. Torrance says he wasn't surprised that Pfizer settled the case.

TORRANCE: I have a suspicion that in front of a jury - a lone individual, a scientist who everybody acknowledges had some early science leading up to the drug was up against a gigantic company which had made $35 billion. I wouldn't want to be in the company's shoes against this lone heroic inventor.

KAUFMAN: Detailed terms of the settlement have not been made public. But Brigham Young University says it was very, very pleased with how the matter had been resolved.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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