Award in Synthetic Hormone Replacement Suit
A jury awarded $28 million in punitive damages in Pennsylvania state court Monday to a plaintiff who claimed her use of Pfizer Inc.’s hormone-therapy drugs caused breast cancer.
The jury had awarded $6.3 million in compensatory damages on Friday to the plaintiff, Donna Kendall, of Decatur, Ill. The jury found the Pfizer units had engaged in a pattern of willful and reckless conduct. Wyeth was the primary seller of hormone-therapy drugs, and Pfizer recently acquired the company. A separate Pfizer unit, Upjohn, was a defendant in the case.
“We hope that the jury’s verdict will send a message to these giant pharmaceutical companies that the safety and well being of the public must come before profits,” said Tobias Millrood, Ms. Kendall’s attorney, in a press release.
Separately, in the case of another woman, Connie Barton, who alleged use of the drugs caused breast cancer, a Pennsylvania jury last month ordered $75 million in punitive damages, after $3.7 million in compensatory damages. The amount of punitive damages had been confidential but was unsealed Monday. Together, juries in the two cases ordered Pfizer to pay more than $112 million in damages.
A government study released in 2002 linked Wyeth hormone-therapy drugs, including Premarin and PremPro, which are used to treat menopausal symptoms, to increased risk for breast cancer and other injuries. As of mid-year, Wyeth was a defendant in some 8,200 claims in state and federal courts.
Source: LA Times, November 24, 2009