Around lunchtime today, a Philadelphia jury returned a verdict against Wyeth in the Singleton v. Wyeth case. Punitive Damages are also being considered. I am going to post the Bloomberg story verbatim in this blog, since it is short and does a good summary of that verdict. In addition, there should be another verdict that will be either tomorrow or Wednesday, as both trials were going on simultaneously. Anyway, here is how the reporter for Bloomberg saw it:
Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) — Pfizer Inc.’s Wyeth unit must pay $3.45 million to a woman who argued the company’sPrempro menopause medicine helped cause her cancer, a Philadelphia jury ruled today.
Jurors in state court deliberated about five hours over two days before finding Prempro was one of the causes of Audrey Singleton’s breast cancer. Singleton, a retired school bus driver from Chatom, Alabama, took Prempro for about seven years before developing the disease. She underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, according to her lawyers.
Jurors awarded Singleton $3.25 million in damages for claims including medical expenses and pain and suffering. They awarded her husband $200,000 for loss of consortium. Jurors will hear arguments on punitive damages later today.
“We are obviously disappointed with the verdict and will evaluate all of our legal options once the court completes its work in this case,” Pfizer said in a statement. “Given that the case is continuing to the next phase, it would not be appropriate to comment any further.”
Lawyers for Singleton declined to comment until the end of the case.
The verdict is Wyeth’s seventh loss in 10 cases to have gone before juries and the fifth in a row over the drug. Former users have filed more than 8,000 complaints against Wyeth and another Pfizer unit over menopause drugs, according to a Wyeth regulatory filing last year. The drugs are still on the market.
More than 6 million women took the pills to treat symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings before a 2002 study highlighted the drugs’ links to cancer.
Until 1995, many patients combined Premarin, Wyeth’s estrogen-based drug, with progestin-laden Provera, made by Pfizer’s Pharmacia & Upjohn unit. Wyeth combined the two hormones in Prempro.
New York-based Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, completed its $68 billion purchase of Wyeth last year.
Singleton, a mother of three, began taking Prempro in August 1997. A mammogram at that time was normal, her lawyers said during the trial. She stopped taking the drug in January 2004 after her breast cancer diagnosis.
Lawyers for Pfizer argued during the trial that Singleton learned in July 2002 of the risks associated with the drug. Her prescribing physician suggested she stay on the medicine, Pfizer said.