Recently, a breast cancer survivor won her hormone replacement lawsuit against Pfizer. Plaintiff, Donna Kendall asserted that three of Pfizer’s hormone replacement drugs contributed to her breast cancer, and a jury in Philadelphia agreed with her. The jury found that the drug company failed to adequately warn consumers of the risks of Premarin, Prempro, and Provera, and ordered Pfizer to pay Ms. Kendall $6.3 million in compensatory damages and $28 million in punitive damages. Pfizer became responsible for this and thousands of other hormone replacement lawsuits, when it acquired Wyeth and Pharmacia & UpJohn.
The FDA approved Premarin in 1942 and Prempro in 1994, and they are used to treat moderate to severe symptoms of menopause. Provera was approved in 1959 to treat abnormal uterine bleeding, secondary amenorrhea and endometrial hyperplastia in post-menopausal women who are taking estrogen pills. A study of Premarin and Prempro by the Women’s Health Initiative, revealed an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and breast cancer. After that study, the use of hormone therapy decreased. One later study linked hormone replacement therapy to a signifcant increase in stroke risk. Hormone therapy was linked to an increased risk for ovarian cancer by a more recent study.
In October, another Philadelphia jury ordered Pfizer to pay $75 million to another plaintifff, whose breast cancer was connected to Prempro. Pfizer says it will challenge both verdicts.