A jury decided unanimously that the drugmaker did not the hide the risks of its Prempro hormone replacement treatment, which is now the fourth straight victory for Pfizer that was decided by a jury. The decision comes less than a week after the Nevada Supreme Court upheld a $58 million judgment that was awarded to three women, who claimed they suffered breast cancer after taking the med.
But jurors in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, decided Georgia Torkie-Tork, 65, was unable to prove Wyeth, which is now owned by Pfizer, hid or downplayed risks associated with Prempro. The treatment was widely used until the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study, which was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, found women taking Prempro had a 24 percent higher risk of breast cancer.
Sales, subsequently, plummeted, while the number of lawsuits rose dramatically. Pfizer has now lost seven of 14 cases that have gone to juries, although this was the first in which the drugmaker was ordered to pay punitive damages. Several verdicts against the drugmaker were later thrown out. Another 8,000 or so are still pending and about 3,000 have been dismissed before reaching trial.
A Pfizer spokesman sent us this statement: “While we have great sympathy for Ms. Torkie-Tork and her family, we believe the verdict in this case affirms that Wyeth communicated the risks and benefits of Prempro. Indeed, at all times relevant to this case, Wyeth’s hormone therapy medications carried science-based, FDA-approved warnings for physicians and patients regarding a risk of breast cancer and the information necessary to enable doctors to determine whether and how to prescribe the medicine...Science cannot determine what caused or contributed to any individual woman’s breast cancer, except in rare circumstances where genetics play a role. In fact, the National Cancer Institute’s website states that: ‘No one knows the exact causes of breast cancer.' "