Drug giant Pfizer has reached an $894 million agreement to resolve almost all of the lawsuits regarding its pain drugs Bextra (valdecoxib) and Celebrex (celecoxib).

The drugmaker has been embroiled in numerous court battles with patients claiming to have suffered cardiovascular events after taking COX-2 inhibitors Bextra, which was withdrawn from the US market in 2005 on safety grounds, and Celebrex.

The announcement follows favourable rulings which saw federal and New York court judges decide that a majority of the personal injury cases failed to present reliable scientific evidence to prove Celebrex can cause heart attacks or strokes at its most commonly prescribed dose.

These rulings would have likely limited the scope of these cases had the litigation continued. By settling these matters now, the parties are minimising the future cost and disruption inevitably associated with litigation. “We are pleased by the favourable rulings we have achieved in this litigation and believe that now is the right time to resolve these matters,” said Amy Schulman, Pfizer's general counsel.

The personal injury settlements, totalling $745 million, will resolve more than 90% of the known personal injury claims made against Pfizer alleging that Pfizer’s non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs caused heart attack, stroke or other injury.

Meanwhile, Pfizer has also reached an $89 million agreement in principle to settle payor class action consumer fraud cases involving Bextra and Celebrex in which plaintiffs allege economic loss relating to the promotion of these medications.

In addition, Pfizer has reached agreements in principle to resolve claims brought by 33 states and the District of Columbia, primarily relating to alleged Bextra promotional practices. Under these settlements, Pfizer will make a total payment of $60 million to the states and adopt compliance measures that complement policies and procedures previously established by the company.

“Pfizer stands by the safety and efficacy profile of Celebrex,” said Joseph Feczko, chief medical officer. “We believe that putting these matters substantially behind us should better enable physicians to consider Celebrex purely on the strength of its clinical data, and its ability to meet the diverse needs of patients in pain.”