Wyeth Hit with $9.45 Million Judgment in Prempro Lawsuit

A breast cancer victim who used <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/prempro">Prempro has been awarded $9.45 million by a Philadelphia jury in her lawsuit against Pfizer Inc.’s Wyeth unit.

About 8,000 people who used Wyeth’s hormone-replacement drugs have filed similar suit against the company. Roughly 1,500 such lawsuits are pending in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

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 latest Prempro verdict was handed down yesterday, after the jury had deliberated for four hours. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Audrey Singleton, a retired school-bus driver and mother of three, was awarded $3.25 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages. The verdict also included $200,000 to Singleton’s husband for loss of consortium.

According to The National Law Journal, this case is the first in the country involving a plaintiff diagnosed with breast cancer well after the July 2002 release of the NIH study.

According to her lawsuit, Singleton began taking Prempro in 1997, and stopped taking it in 2004 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Singleton was prescribed Prempro during a period in which the label had changed following release the WHI. A plaintiffs’ attorney told the National Law Journal the jury verdict showed the jury found that Wyeth didn’t react appropriately to the WHI.

This is just the latest victory for plaintiffs involved in hormone therapy breast cancer lawsuits. In November, we reported that Wyeth had 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.

The second case, also heard in Philadelphia, resulted in a punitive damage award of $75 million, and $3.5 million in compensatory damages. However, the punitive damage award in that case was ultimately reduced to $10.6 million.

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