It looks like Pfizer has had enough of the litigation surrounding its hormone therapy medication, Prempro. According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Pfizer disclosed it has set aside $772 million to settle hormone therapy lawsuits which it says is “the minimum expected costs to resolve all of the other outstanding” lawsuits.
Pfizer inherited thousands of Prempro lawsuits when it acquired Wyeth in 2009, and at one time faced as many as 10,000. The $772 million mentioned in the SEC filing includes $300 million the company paid out in a previous round of settlements, and $172 million in reported settlements last quarter.
The final $300 million will settle the last round of lawsuits this quarter, however, Pfizer said more might be required if its estimates are off.
The decision to settle cases reflects a business decision
“The decision to settle cases reflects a business decision by the company to avoid the cost and distraction of prolonged litigation,” Chris Loder, a Pfizer spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg.com.
Pfizer did not disclose how many lawsuits it would settle. So far, settlements have provided average payouts of about $150,000 per woman, according to a Bloomberg.com report.
Hormone therapy drugs like Prempro, which are used to treat the symptoms of menopause, became controversial in 2002, after a study linked them to a higher risk of breast cancer. More than 6 million women took Prempro and related menopause drugs before that study was released.
Prempro lawsuits claim Wyeth did not adequately test the drug, and that the company failed to adequately warn that Prempro may increase the risk of breast cancer.