Wyeth, the maker of Premarin and Prempro, has settled lawsuits with two Nevada women who blamed the Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) drugs for their breast cancers. Wyeth faces more than more than 5,000 lawsuits over the menopause drugs, which are still on the market.
HRT is used to treat the hot flashes and other symptoms that accompany menopause. In 2002, a major HRT 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 study 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 HRT should quit and talk to their doctors about alternatives.
Vesta Woodhouse, 71, and Annie Woods, 61, were among the millions of women who used HRT. Their lawsuits claimed Wyeth failed to adequately warn them about the drugs’ breast cancer risks. Woodhouse took Prempro for 19 months before developing breast cancer. Woods took Premarin, Provera and then Prempro for about five years before developing breast cancer. Provera is an HRT medication marketed by Pfizer. Wyeth settled with both women for an undisclosed amount, but Woods still has a lawsuit pending against Pfizer. That lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial this week.
According to a report on Bloomberg.com, Wyeth has lost four of seven cases over menopause drugs Premarin and Prempro since they began going to trial in 2006. Upjohn has lost both cases that have gone to trial over Provera, which came on the market in 1959. New York-based Pfizer acquired Upjohn in 2003 as part of the $54 billion acquisition of Pharmacia Corp.
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