Pfizer, Inc. has reportedly agreed to settle Prempro lawsuits filed on behalf of about 2,200 people who allegedly developed breast cancer as a result their hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which was developed by the drug maker’s Wyeth subsidiary.
According to a report by Bloomberg Businessweek, Pfizer has agreed to pay $330 million to resolve the claims, which works out to an average of about $150,000 for each case. However, the drug maker has indicated that some of the reported settlement terms are not accurate and remains tight-lipped about the deal.
The Prempro settlement comes after eight years of legal battles by Pfizer and Wyeth, which was acquired by Pfizer in 2009. It also comes as a Chief Executive Officer, Ian Read, takes over the drug maker.
A number of Prempro trials have resulted in multi-million dollar compensatory awards and even larger punitive damage awards after juries determined that Wyeth intentionally hid the risk of breast cancer from Prempro. Just this week, a Pennsylvania appeals court reinstated a $10 million verdict in a Prempro HRT lawsuit, which included $8.6 million in punitive damages.
Prempro contains a combination of the drugs Provera and Premarin, to artificially boost hormone levels in women undergoing menopause due to surgery or in postmenopausal women. Known as hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, the drugs are designed to provide relief from symptoms such as hot flashes, irregular menstruation or weight gain.
In 2002, the National Institutes of Health released the results of studies that found women receiving HRT were at higher risk of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks. The studies, part of the Women’s Health Initiative, sparked most of the Prempro HRT lawsuits currently pending throughout the country. By that time, Prempro and other HRT drugs had been used by more than 6 million women.
There are now about 9,000 lawsuits over breast cancer from Prempro pending against Pfizer’s Wyeth unit by women who claim that they developed breast cancer from the medication. All of the lawsuits claim that the drug caused plaintiffs to develop breast cancer, and that Wyeth failed to warn patients and doctors of the potential side effects of the hormone therapy. A number of those cases are consolidated and centralized under U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson in Arkansas. Others are in state courts across the country, including Pennsylvania, Nevada and Minnesota.