Jury Awards Three Women $72 Million for Cancer Stemming from Prempro

(December 7, 2011) A Philadelphia jury deliberated over two days before awarding three women $72.6 million in compensatory damages over their use of a popular hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drug called Prempro, and more cash may be coming once punitive damages are determined.

 

The issue was whether Pfizer (or more specifically, its Wyeth and Upjohn subsidiaries, which were acquired over the past decade) provided adequate warnings of the risk of breast cancer.  In reaching its decision, the jury awarded $20 million to Susan Elfont, Bernadette Kalenkoski $27.85 million and Judy Mulderig $24.75 million, as reported by Bloomberg News.

 

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the Common Pleas Court on Tuesday ordered pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. to pay out damages over the victims’ claims that HRT Prempro gave them breast cancer.  The jury can take two weeks to determine punitive damages.

 

Two months ago, however, a NJ appeals court ruled that Pfizer Inc. cannot be sued by two women who argued that the drug maker’s hormone replacement therapies caused their breast cancer. In reaching its decision, the all-female appeals panel concluded that there was no evidence the drug maker misled doctors or patients about the risks associated with Premarin, Prempro, and Provera. The ruling cast a cloud over the fate of other Prempro lawsuits.

 

In the past five years since the trials have begun, Pfizer has lost 10 out of 18 cases, which were decided by juries. However, Pfizer has been successful in having some verdicts tossed after trial, or has had awards reduced, while others were settled, and some are on appeal. Pfizer has also won dismissals of more than 3,000 cases before those went to trial.  Pfizer has set aside $772 million to cover settlements and costs.

 

The three women who sued Pfizer live or lived in Pennsylvania.  Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, now owned by Pfizer, was faced with dozens of lawsuits after a study found that Prempro users had a considerably higher incidence of breast cancer.

 

Wyeth’s sales of the medicines, which are still on the market, topped $2 billion before the release of the Women’s Health Initiative, a National Institutes of Health-sponsored study.

 

Prempro was taken by more than 6,000,000 women for relief from menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings, but a 2002 study showed that the drug may be linked to cancer, as reported in Bloomberg News.

 

In 2010, it was reported in USA Today, that a Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) study showed that Prempro not only increases a women’s breast cancer risk, or the risk of cancer spreading to the lymph nodes, but it also increases the risk of dying from breast cancer.

 

According to WebMD, Prempro’s oral warnings state that Prempro should only be taken for the shortest duration of time, at the lowest dose possible. What do you think about this drug, or the recent jury verdict? Leave your comments on our Facebook page, or Retweet this article. You may also contact one of our attorneys at 1-800-246-4878, or stop by our website for more information.

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