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Juries Award $103M in Punitives in Two Prempro Cases

Posted Nov 24, 2009 11:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Philadelphia juries have awarded two breast-cancer victims $103 million in punitive damages in two separate cases against Pfizer Inc. involving the marketing of the hormone replacement drug Prempro.

Jurors had heard testimony that Wyeth, the maker of Premarin and Prempro, paid consultants to write medical journal articles to play down the risks of breast cancer, and evidence that another drug maker, Pharmacia, didn’t study known risks of its replacement drug, Provera, the New York Times reports. Both companies have been acquired by Pfizer.

Yesterday jurors awarded $28 million in punitives to Donna Kendall of Decatur, Ill., in addition to $6 million in compensatory damages already awarded, the Legal Intelligencer reports.

After the verdict, the court unsealed an award of $75 million in punitives in a case filed by Connie Barton of Peoria, Ill. She had already been awarded $3.5 million in compensatory damages.

Fordham University law professor Howard Erichson told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the $75 million punitive award will likely be reduced because it is so much larger than compensatory damages.

At least 1,500 cases over the hormone drugs have been filed in Philadelphia, the location of Wyeth, the Times says. Across the country, more than 10,000 cases have been filed.

Esther Berezofsky, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs, told the Times that women with breast cancer have won awards in 10 of 12 hormone drug cases. Pfizer counters that out of 34 hormone replacement cases that have been tried, all but four of the plaintiffs’ verdicts were set aside, according to the Intelligencer.

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