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Double Trouble for Pfizer

Two Juries Award More than $103 Million to Punish Pfizer Unit, Wyeth

November 23, 2009 - Connie Barton and Donna Kendall both have something in common. They stood up to one of the largest and most powerful drug companies in court - and won. Today, in Philadelphia, PA, these two verdicts against Wyeth (a division of Pfizer) over its hormone therapy drugs (Premarin and Prempro) were released. In each case, the jury awarded these women significant compensatory and punitive damages ranging from more than $34 million to $78 million. And this is just the tip of the iceberg as Wyeth faces lawsuits from more than ten thousand additional women who also claim that Wyeth's drugs gave them breast cancer. A third punitive verdict, awarded in 2007 in the Daniel v. Wyeth case, was scheduled to be released today as well. Wyeth was granted emergency relief this morning, however, to keep the third verdict sealed.

The evidence at these trials showed Wyeth's unrelenting campaign to make billions of dollars in profit from these drugs while keeping the truth about the drugs' secret. Jurors were shocked to learn that:

  • Wyeth was on notice of the need to study whether combination hormone therapy causes breast cancer as early as 1975 but failed to conduct a single breast cancer study over the course of the next three decades - despite over a dozen red flags that breast cancer was a safety problem;
  •  Instead of studying the breast cancer risk, Wyeth took active steps to downplay, dismiss and contain the release of data from other institutions' studies that showed such risk;
  • Even worse, Wyeth ghost-wrote dozens of medical articles that minimized the breast cancer risk and exaggerated the benefits of hormone therapy and then published these articles in reputable medical journals under independent doctors' names;
  •  The world did not learn the truth until a government study was stopped early because of breast cancer;
  • Studies now confirm that 200,000 women -grandmothers, mothers, sisters and wives - would not have suffered breast cancer but for their use of combination hormone therapy drugs.

Today's verdicts clearly show that jurors will be outraged when they hear how Wyeth put huge profits ahead of patient safety. Just last month, a legal ruling from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that Wyeth did wrong and that juries should be permitted to hear this evidence and determine whether the company should be punished. In the words of Robert Peck, President of the Constitutional Law Center, this ruling shows that "Wyeth's behavior outraged these judges."

As Michael Richmond, jury foreperson in a Prempro trial, explains: "Wyeth had no concern whatsoever for the health of the patients. They were only concerned about their profits." These verdicts - with significant punitive awards - confirm the anger of a community when the truth is learned.

Hausfeld LLP Partner Richard Lewis serves on the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee appointed to oversee the MDL for the hormone therapy drug cases.

Of the twelve verdicts to date, Plaintiffs have been awarded money by ten of the twelve juries. Every jury that has been permitted to deliberate on punitive damages has returned substantial punitive damage awards. In addition, thirteen women have settled their hormone therapy claims with Wyeth or Pfizer.

The verdicts released today are:

Donna Kendall v. Wyeth (Phila. CCP, June Term, 2004, No. 0965):

Jury Verdict:

Compensatory Damages: $6,300,000

Punitive Damages: $28,000,000

For more information about the Kendall case, please contact trial counsel Tobi Millrood at tmillrood@pbmattorneys.com or (610) 941-4204.

Connie Barton v. Wyeth (Phila. CCP, April Term 2004, NO. 06301):

Jury Verdict:

Compensatory Damages: $3,746,344

Punitive Damages: $75,000,000

For more information about the Barton case, please contact trial counsel Zoe Littlepage at zoe@littlepagebooth.com or (713) 529-8000.