Prempro Lawsuits Reinstated By Federal Appeals Court

More than 100 lawsuits involving <"">Prempro and other hormone replacement therapy drugs have been reinstated, thanks to a ruling by a federal appeals court. On Wednesday, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 2008 district court ruling that had not only dismissed the Prempro lawsuits in Arkansas federal court, but had prevented them from being sent back to a Minnesota state court.

Hormone therapy drugs like Prempro, Premarin, and Provera are used to treat the hot flashes and other symptoms that accompany menopause. In 2002, a major study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) determined that Prempro, Premarin 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.

According to the Associated Press, most of the lawsuits reinstated by the 8th Court of Appeals involve Prempro, which is manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., a division of Pfizer Inc. A total of a dozen companies, including Wyeth, Pfizer, Barr Laboratories Inc. and Mead Johnson & Co., are defendants in the Arkansas cases. The suits were filed by women or their survivors who claimed that the hormone replacement drugs caused breast cancer.

In reinstating the complaints and sending them back to the state court, the 8th circuit said that since the proper venue for the lawsuits was a state court, the district court judge did not have jurisdiction to dismiss them. It also reversed the dismissal of dozens of cases that the lower court ruled should not have been part of the litigation because they duplicated claims pending in California, the Associated Press said.

This is just the latest victory for plaintiffs involved in hormone therapy breast cancer lawsuits. In November, we reported that Pfizer Inc. has been ordered to pay punitive damages totaling $103 million in two lawsuits involving Prempro. In the first case, a Philadelphia jury awarded $28 million in punitive damages to a 66-year-old woman who claimed her breast cancer was the result of taking Prempro and Provera. The verdict also included $6.3 million in compensatory damages. It was the largest compensatory damage award in cases tried in Philadelphia so far.

The second case, also heard in Philadelphia, resulted in a punitive damage award of $75 million, and $3.5 million in compensatory damages.

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