Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wyeth Loses Prempro Trial

A jury found that Prempro caused the plaintiff's breast cancer and awarded Jennie Nelson and her husband $3 million, in a retrial of a Philadelphia HRT case.  Here's an excerpt from today's Philadelphia Inquirer story:

A Philadelphia jury blasted the drugmaker Wyeth yesterday for failing to warn a patient about breast-cancer risks of its hormone drug Prempro and awarded the Ohio woman and her husband $3 million in damages.

It was the second - and biggest - loss in litigation over Prempro. Wyeth has headquarters in Madison, N.J., with pharmaceutical operations in Collegeville. It has won two Prempro cases, has settled at least one, and has three more trials scheduled for this year.

Wyeth indicated it would appeal yesterday's verdict.

"We respectfully disagree that there is any scientific basis to support the jury's finding of a causal link between Wyeth's hormone therapies and the plaintiff's breast cancer," Barbara R. Binis, a Wyeth defense attorney from the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith L.L.P., said in a statement.

The company has said it faces about 5,000 cases over its hormone-replacement drugs, including Prempro and Premarin.

But plaintiffs' attorneys say cases involving at least 10,000 people have been filed nationwide in federal and state courts, including roughly 1,800 people in Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas. Almost all involve breast cancer.

A Reuters story -- Jury awards plaintiff $3 million in Wyeth Prempro case -- notes that this was a retrial:

A previous Philadelphia jury also found in favor of the plaintiff, Jennie Nelson, in October. But the judge threw out that verdict and declared a mistrial, leading to the retrial that concluded on Tuesday.

The original jury at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas had awarded Nelson and her husband $1.5 million in compensatory damages. This time, Nelson was awarded $2.4 million and her husband $600,000.

The reason for the mistrial declaration was not disclosed at the time, with Nelson's attorney saying only that it was due to extraneous circumstances. There has been speculation since that the verdict may have been overturned as a result of juror misconduct.

The first Nelson trial (a phased trial using a reverse bifurcation structure) and the court's mistrial ruling had attracted attention from those looking for early signs of where the Prempro litigation might be heading.


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