Pfizer Inc. will pay $450 million to settle a six-year lawsuit filed by Brigham Young University (BYU) over the development of the anti-inflammatory drug Celebrex, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.
The prolonged legal battle centered on a single enzyme, one that was instrumental in the development of anti-arthritis drug Celebrex. BYU’s suit claimed that chemistry professor Daniel Simmons discovered the COX-2 enzyme in the early ‘90s, allowing for the development of “super aspirin,” which would treat inflammation with fewer gastrointestinal side effects.
According to the university, it entered into a research agreement with Monsanto Co.—later acquired by Pfizer—to investigate “super aspirin.” After Celebrex’s development, however, Simmons never received acknowledgement or compensation for his contributions. Pfizer denied the university’s charges.
BYU stood to gain $9.7 billion in Celebrex royalties and billions more in punitive damages at a jury trial, scheduled to start May 29 in Salt Lake City. In light of the settlement, the university plans to endow a Dan Simmons chair to the professor’s accomplishments.
In a statement, Pfizer said it was “pleased to resolve this matter and the uncertainty of litigation and to be in a position to support Dr. Simmons’ research efforts at BYU.”
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