Pfizer Preps for Prempro Lawsuit Settlements

Pfizer which has already settled a third of pending <"">Prempro lawsuits, is reportedly preparing to resolve even more cases. According to a report from, the company has set aside more than $700 million to settle claims that Prempro caused women to develop breast cancer.

Hormone therapy drugs like Prempro, Premarin, and Provera are used to treat the hot flashes and other symptoms that accompany menopause. In 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a major study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), determined that Prempro and similar drugs significantly increased the risk of stroke, blood clots, heart attacks and breast cancer. The results were so alarming that the NIH canceled the study, citing risk to the study’s participants. The authors of the study suggested that many of the women who used the medications should quit and talk to their doctors about alternatives.

The WHI findings sparked a tidal wave of litigation. At one time, Pfizer faced around 10,000 lawsuits involving its hormone medications, Prempro and Premarin, according to Bloomberg. Around 8,000 are consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in federal court in Arkansas, while others are pending in various state courts. Pfizer inherited the lawsuits when it acquired Wyeth in 2009.

The lawsuits claim Wyeth did not adequately test Prempro, and they allege that doctors and patients were not properly warned that the drug may increase the risk of breast cancer. Some complaints even claim that Wyeth intentionally hid the risk of breast cancer from Prempro.

Now in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Pfizer disclosed it had set aside $772 million to settle hormone therapy lawsuits. According to Bloomberg, the filing said that “the reserve provides ‘the minimum expected costs to resolve all of the other outstanding’ lawsuits over its hormone-replacement drugs.”

According to a report from, that amount includes $300 million the company paid out in a previous round of settlements, and $172 million in reported settlements last quarter. Pfizer said it expects to spend $300 million to resolve the final lawsuits this quarter. So far, settlements provided average payouts of about $150,000 per woman, according to Bloomberg. The company did not say how many cases were being settled.

According to Bloomberg, Pfizer has lost eight of the 15 Prempro cases that have made it to juries since 2006. However, some of those verdicts have been thrown out, and some rewards have been reduced.

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