Thursday, October 11, 2007
Yesterday, a Nevada jury hit Wyeth Pharmaceuticals with a $134.5 million verdict in a three-plaintiff hormone replacement therapy case. According to a story in the Reno Gazette-Journal -- Jury Orders Wyeth to Pay Out Millions -- the jury found for the plaintiffs on negligence, product defect, and causation, found that Wyeth "concealed a material fact about the safety of the product," and found by clear and convincing evidence that Wyeth "acted with malice or fraud":
A Washoe County jury has ordered pharmaceutical giant Wyeth to pay more than $43 million each to three Northern Nevada women who claimed in a lawsuit the company's hormone-replacement drugs caused their breast cancer.
The jury said Premarin, an estrogen replacement, and Prempro, a combination of estrogen and progestin, were defective products and found Wyeth was negligent in producing, marketing and selling the drugs.
The bad news for Wyeth is that this was merely the compensatory damages phase; jurors will return tomorrow to decide punitive damages. Yesterday's verdict broke down as follows: for Jeraldine Scofield, $7.5 million in past damages and $36 million in future damages; for Arlene Rowatt, $7.5 million in past damages and $36 million in future damages; and for Pamela Forrester, $7.5 million in past damages and $40 million in future damages. A year ago, Wyeth settled with Carol McCreary, a fourth HRT plaintiff who had been part of the same lawsuit.
The article notes that Wyeth is facing about 5300 HRT lawsuits involving about 7800 plaintiffs.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the financial markets do not seem particularly troubled by the Nevada verdict or by the Prempro litigation, which pales in comparison to the woes Wyeth faced in fen-phen.