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Wyeth Fights $27 Million Hormone Replacement Ruling

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, March 10, 2008 11:15 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Dangerous and Defective Drugs, Women's Health

Wyeth continues to appeal jury rulings concerning hormone replacement, some of it made from pregnant mares urine.


Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Upjohn have been ordered to pay a Little Rock Arkansas woman more than $27 million dollars after a jury linked her breast cancer to hormone replacement therapy.

The award includes $19.3 from Wyeth and $7.7 from Upjohn in punitive damages.

Last month jurors ruled in favor of Donna Scroggin who sued saying that there was an inadequate warning on Premarin and Prempro about the increased risk for breast cancer.  Provera is also named as is maker Upjohn.

The award includes $2.75 million in compensatory damages.

Wyeth plans to appeal. Wyeth representative Doug Petkus said the verdict “doesn’t change the fact that the verdict was irreparably flawed and fraught with error.” Wyeth says that Scroggin had a history of breast cancer and the companies properly warn about the drugs' cancer risks.

It has had luck so far in fighting a series of jury awards.

Another Little Rock woman lost her case last year against Wyeth and that loss was upheld by a federal appeals court. And in another case, a federal jury ruled for the drug maker in 2006 in the first of a long line of lawsuits against Wyeth, a New Jersey drugmaker.

An Ohio woman initially won her $3 million case, but later a judge overturned the award.

Then last year in Nevada, the largest award so far. Three Nevada women were awarded $134 million by a jury after they sued over their hormone therapy.  A judge later cut that to $58 million which includes $35 million in punitive damages. Wyeth has filed an appeal of that amount too.

There are approximately 5,300 similar cases pending across the country for Premarin, an estrogen replacement made from pregnant mare urine (Pre-mar-in) and Prempro, which is a combination of estrogen and progestin.

The drugs are approved and continue to be prescribed.

About 25 million American women use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease the discomfort of menopause that can include rapid heart beat, sweating, hot flashes and mood swings. However fewer women are taking the HRT than before.

Sales of Prempro have dropped in half from $2 billion a year in 2002 before studies came out linking HRT to a high risk of breast cancer.

Instead many women are turning to bio-identical formulations made from plants and medical doctors who prescribe them as well as other doctors, such as Dr. Susan Lark who write about them. #

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