Pfizer is expected to pay a total of about $1.2 billion to settle lawsuits claiming that side effects of Prempro caused women to develop breast cancer.
The drugmaker has already paid out $896 million to settle approximately 6,000 Prempro breast cancer lawsuits, and Pfizer has now set aside an additional $330 million to cover the remaining 4,000, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The Prempro settlements come after six years of trials, in which several plaintiffs were awarded tens of millions of dollars, including punitive damages for the drug maker’s actions in withholding information about the risk of breast cancer from Prempro.
Commonly referred to as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), Prempro contains a combination of the drugs Provera and Premarin, which artificially boost hormone levels in women undergoing menopause due to surgery or in postmenopausal women. It was originally introduced by Wyeth, which was acquired by Pfizer in 2009.
About 10,000 women have filed a lawsuit after allegedly developing breast cancer from Prempro. In the litigation, 11 out of the 21 cases presented to a jury have resulted in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.
In the early years those trials were against Wyeth, which originally developed Prempro, and Wyeth performed poorly in those cases. But in 2009 the company was acquired by Pfizer, which has won the last eight out of 10 trial verdicts.
If Pfizer is able to resolve all claims for the amount of money that has been set aside, each case will receive about $150,000 in compensation. However, some plaintiffs are likely to reject such offers, and Pfizer has noted that the remaining 4,000 claims may cost more to settle than the money set aside.
Most of the complaints were filed after a 2002 study by the National Institutes of Health found that women receiving HRT were at a higher risk of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks. By that time, Prempro and other HRT drugs had been used by more than 6 million women.