Settlement Reached in Prempro Suit That Resulted in $72.6M Verdict

Pfizer has reportedly agreed to settle a Prempro lawsuit brought by three women, who were awarded more than $20 million each by a Philadelphia jury last week. 

According to Bloomberg News, a confidential settlement was reached between the drug maker and Susan Elfont, Bernadette Kalenkoski and Judy Mulderig. All three women say they took the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drug Prempro and later developed breast cancer as a result.

The settlement came after a jury awarded $72.6 million in compensatory damages last week in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. However, the jury was still considering whether to award punitive damages against Pfizer, which could have raised the final verdict into the hundreds of millions.

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No details about the prempro settlement were disclosed, but the jury had awarded damages of $20 million to Elfont; $27.85 million to Kalenkoski; and $24.75 million to Mulderig, which was designed to compensate the women for past and future medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. The additional punitive damages being considered by the jury would have been designed to punish the drug maker for willfully disregarding or endangering the safety of the women for profit.

The settlement reached in the Prempro suit will allow the women to avoid years of delay caused by appeals that were likely to stem from the jury award, and allow Pfizer to avoid the uncertainty of a potentially harsh punitive damage award.

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.

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.

About 10,000 Prempro suits have been filed against Pfizer’s subsidiaries, all involving similar allegations that the drug makers failed to adequately research the side effects of Prempro or warn that the medication may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Most of the complaints were filed after a 2002 study by the National Institutes of Health found that women receiving hormone replacement therapy (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.

In May, Pfizer announced that it was setting aside $772 million to reach settlement in about one-third of those lawsuits.

A number of other Prempro trials have resulted in multi-million dollar compensatory awards against the drug maker and even larger punitive damage awards after juries determined that Wyeth intentionally hid the risk of breast cancer from Prempro.

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