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Breast Cancer Survivor Files Suit Over Premarin, Prempro

Jan 5, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

A Virginia breast cancer survivor says her use of the hormone therapy drugs  Prempro and Premarin caused her disease.  Tina Griffin of Manassas is now suing Wyeth, a division of Pfizer Inc., seeking damages for medical bills, as well as pain and suffering.

Griffin had taken Prempro and Premarin for less than six years when she got her breast cancer diagnosis.  Doctors had to remove 14 lymph nodes, and she endured almost six months of radiation therapy. While she is now cancer free, Griffin only has limited use of her right arm because of the surgeries.

Wyeth and Pfizer have been named in nearly 10,000 similar lawsuits. In November, we reported that Pfizer Inc. has been ordered to pay punitive damages totaling $103 million in two lawsuits involving Prempro. In the first case, a Philadelphia jury awarded $28 million in punitive damages to a 66-year-old woman who claimed her breast cancer was the result of taking Prempro and Provera. The second case, also heard in Philadelphia, resulted in a punitive damage award of $75 million , and $3.5 million in compensatory damages.

Hormone therapy drugs like Premarin, Prempro, Premphase and Provera are used to treat the hot flashes and other symptoms that accompany menopause. In 2002, a major study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) determined that Prempro, Premarin and similar drugs significantly increased the risk of stroke, blood clots, heart attacks and breast cancer. The results were so alarming that the NIH canceled the study, citing risk to the study’s participants. The authors of the study suggested that many of the women who used the medications should quit and talk to their doctors about alternatives.

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