Pfizer Inc. Strives to Prevent CEO From Testifying in Chantix Trial

Published: Oct 12, 2012

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) appealed a judge’s order that Chief Executive Officer Ian Read testify in person at a federal trial over claims that use of its anti-smoking drug Chantix caused a Minnesota man to commit suicide. The family of Mark Alan Whitely sued Pfizer after his death in November 2007, alleging the company failed to sufficiently warn that Chantix could increase the risk of suicide. The Whitely lawsuit is the first of more than 2,500 Chantix cases pending in federal court in Alabama to go to trial, according to court records. U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson ordered Read and two other company executives to testify live at the trial, which is scheduled to begin Oct. 22 in Florence, Alabama. Pfizer asked the federal appeals court in Atlanta to erase her Oct. 4 order as “plainly beyond the court’s subpoena power.” Johnson’s order violates civil procedure, which “prohibits service of subpoenas more than 100 miles from the courthouse,” Pfizer lawyers said in their appeal. “There is absolutely no overriding need for live testimony here.”

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