Just before Thanksgiving 2009, two juries handed down separate judgments ordering the maker of the hormone replacement therapy medication Prempro to pay former users of the drug more than $100 million in damages. The juries concluded from evidence present at the trials that Prempro use contributed to the women’s development of breast cancer.
A Peoria, Illinois (IL) woman was awarded $75 million. The other woman, who lives in Decatur, IL, received a judgment for $28 million.
Pfizer, which assumed liability for health problems caused by Prempro when it purchased the drug’s original maker Wyeth in 2009, has vowed to appeal both cases. This refusal to accept responsibility for the harm caused by Prempro comes in the face of conclusive scientific evidence that HRT therapies increase women’s risks for breast cancer, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.
Pfizer also intends to try to argue away its liability for overpromoting the prescribing of a potentially dangerous drug even though Prempro’s prescribing information now warns doctors and patients about the drug’s potential to cause or worsen breast cancer tumors that grow when exposed to large amounts of estrogen. Estrogen is the main active component of Prempro, and like birth control pills, the most-often prescribed version of Prempro also contains a form of the hormone progesterone.
Anyone injured by a prescription medication has been victimized at a time when they were already extremely vulnerable. Drug companies that make and push the use of medications that harm or kill patients must be held accountable. When it comes to the recent Prempro judgments, I hope Pfizer’s appeals will fall on deaf ears.