Prempro Punitive Damage Awards Totaling $103M Returned by Two Juries

A Philadelphia jury hit subsidiaries of Pfizer, Inc. with $28 million in punitive damages on Monday in a lawsuit over Prempro hormone replacement therapy filed by Donna Kendall. Following the award, the Court unsealed a prior Prempro punitive damage award issued for $75 million in a similar case decided by another Philadelphia jury last month.

The two Prempro trials overlapped, with the Kendall case starting as a case filed by Connie Barton was concluding. Following the jury deliberations in the Barton case, the Court sealed the amount of the punitive damage award to avoid any influence over the jury in the Kendall case, which was ongoing in the same courthouse.

In the Barton case, the jury awarded $6.3 million in compensatory damages for past and future medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering caused by breast cancer she developed after using hormone replacement therapy for 5 years to treat menopause symptoms. The additional $75 million in punitive damages were awarded after the jury found that Wyeth, which was recently acquired by Pfizer, purposefully hid the risk of breast cancer from Prempro.

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In the Kendall case, a seperate jury awarded $3.7 million in compensatory and $28 million in punitive damages. In that lawsuit, Kendal alleged that she required a double mastectomy to treat breast cancer she developed from using the combination of Prempro and Provera hormone replacement therapy for 11 years.

Hormone replacement therapy involves the use of hormones and progestins to artificially boost hormone levels in women undergoing menopause due to surgery or in postmenopausal women, 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 breast cancer lawsuits currently against the company.

Barton and Kendall’s cases are just two of about 9,000 Prempro lawsuits pending against Pfizer’s Wyeth subsidiary. All of the lawsuits claim that the company failed to adequately warn about the risk of invasive breast cancer from hormone replacement therapies, and intentionally hid the cancer risk from women.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court vacated a $27 million punitive damage award issued in a Prempro lawsuit decided last year. However, that case will be scheduled for a new trial to reassess whether the manufacturer is liable for punitive damages, and it is possible that the second jury could award more than $27 million.

According to a report by Bloomberg News, at least two other Prempro punitive damage awards have been returned by juries since the first trials began in 2007.

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  • lee annJanuary 18, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    can prempro cause any other cancer such as lung ?

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