Philadelphia Jury Awards $9.45 Million to Breast Cancer Victim Using HRT Drug Prempro
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals has lost another personal injury case, following a lengthy trial in Philadelphia during which the plaintiff was able to prove that the drug maker’s popular hormone replacement therapy drug, Prempro, caused her breast cancer. This marks the seventh loss for Wyeth in a string of personal injury lawsuits claiming the manufacturer knew about the risks associated with the drug, yet failed to warn consumers.
A Philadelphia jury ordered Wyeth to pay $6 million in punitive damages to the woman’s family, and an additional $3.5 million in compensatory damages. The woman’s husband also is to receive loss of consortium damages in the amount of $200,000, bringing the total to $9.45 million.
According to the lawsuit, Prempro (a popular HRT drug) was one of the causes of Audrey Singelton’s breast cancer. The retired school bus driver was on the medication for seven years before she was diagnosed with cancer.
A damaging piece of evidence believed to have swayed the jury was an internal letter from Charles H. Payne, a Wyeth manager in Alabama, who wrote that “the desire for increased sales has overruled our company’s ethical responsibility to promote our products safely.”
In 2002 a major federal study found that Prempro, designed to relive menopausal symptoms in women, may be a contributing factor in causing breast cancer, heart attack and stroke. Although, the FDA and the National Institutes of Health held nationwide public forums to help patients and doctors digest the results of the study, Prempro was never taken off the market. In fact, there was a general recommendation to continue taking the drug. More than six million women took the pills to treat symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings.
Until 1995, many patients combined Premarin, Wyeth’s estrogen-based drug, with progestin-laden Provera, made by Pfizer’s Pharmacia & Upjohn unit. Wyeth combined the two hormones in Prempro. Last year, New York-based Pfizer, the world’s largest drug manufacturer, bought Wyeth for $68 billion.
In addition to Wyeth’s seven losses, Pfizer’s has lost three cases at the jury stage. Pfizer lawyers are appealing the verdicts.
Two of the jury verdicts were reversed post-trial and others are being challenged on appeal. In the meantime, Wyeth has won five summary judgments on Prempro cases and had 15 cases that were set for trial voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs. Finally, the company has won dismissals in another 3,000 cases, with 1,500 cases yet to be presented in front of a jury.
Pfizer/Wyeth attorneys commented on the latest verdict saying that it was not based on facts and that the company plans to challenge the case through appeals.
Although Pfizer/Wyeth attorneys argued that the 2002 study informed consumers and physicians of the risks associated with their product, the manufacturer never changed its label or made any moves to either confirm or deny the safety risks associated with Prempro.
Drug manufacturers have a responsibility to inform consumers of safety risks associated with their products. Failure to do so may be grounds for a negligence case. If you or a loved one is suffering from breast cancer after taking Prempro, you may be eligible to receive damages for your medical bills, pain and suffering. To learn more, please call AWKO at (888) 255 – 2956. AWKO’s experienced Pensacola, Florida attorneys can help you seek justice for you distress caused by a defective drug.