The news seemingly keeps getting worse for Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), but if it can relieve investors' anxiety, the pharmaceutical company stands to be stronger than ever.

On Friday, Pfizer disclosed in a regulatory filing that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is likely to slap a "black label" on pain drug Bextra, warning that users of the medicine are at risk of developing a serious skin condition. The revelation led to speculation that Bextra, which brought in revenue of $324 million in the third quarter, may be in trouble. While the labeling is by no means positive, it is also not totally new. Bextra has carried a less intense warning about the condition, which Pfizer claims is "very rare," since 2002. What's more, the risk of developing the condition exists primarily within the first two weeks of therapy. In the long run, the black label could dampen Bextra sales somewhat, but the medicine seems secure.

Meanwhile, the fallout from Merck's (NYSE:MRK) withdrawal of Bextra competitor Vioxx continues to rain down. Canadian health authorities are investigating the safety of Celebrex, Pfizer's flagship pain treatment, and a group of Canadians has launched a class action lawsuit claiming that the drug caused cardiovascular side effects. The impact of the Vioxx debacle is likewise reverberating in the U.S., as the FDA is evaluating its procedures for monitoring drugs after they hit the market. In this environment, it's easy to be down on Pfizer and the pharmaceutical industry in general.

In the midst of all this, though, Pfizer remains confident. The company is sponsoring a large trial of Celebrex in 4,000 patients who have had recent heart attacks. The stakes are very high: If the drug shows the cardiovascular side effects of Vioxx, Pfizer would take a huge hit. And for now, investors are gripped by fear of this outcome. But if, as Pfizer expects, Celebrex passes through the studies with flying colors, with all the positives at its command, the pharmaceutical giant would be feeling no pain.

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Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer living in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned here.