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Pfizer Settles With Prempro Litigants

With civil litigation pending against the drug maker in Nevada and several other states, Pfizer has agreed to settle more than 2,200 lawsuits. The lawsuits contend that Pfizer’s Wyeth unit knew of the drug Prempro’s cancer risks but hid them from patients.

Prempro is a drug designed to combat the symptoms of menopause in women, including mood swings and hot flashes.

The litigation against Pfizer has been ongoing for approximately eight years. The cases reportedly settled for an average of around $150,000 each. Pfizer, however, would not comment on the settlement news beyond saying that it was inaccurate.

Over six million women have taken Prempro to help with menopause symptoms. The lawsuits allege that the drug caused serious medical problems, including breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks, for women who took the drug longer than five years. A 2002 study showed a link between Prempro and health risks.

Pfizer has had mixed success with previous lawsuits that have gone to trial. Since 2006, 15 cases have gone to juries. Pfizer has lost eight of those cases. Some of the verdicts have been thrown out, and in other cases the awards have been reduced. More than 3,000 cases have been dismissed.

On the other hand, Pfizer has lost several high-profile cases. In one case, the jury awarded a woman nearly $30 million, agreeing that Prempro had caused the woman’s breast cancer. In a similar case, a jury said that Pfizer must pay $10 million.

Some speculate that, with Pfizer’s recent management change, the drug maker is seeking to resolve the lawsuits against it and proceed with its long-term business strategies.

Resource: Bloomberg Businessweek: Pfizer Said to Pay $330 Million in Prempro Settlement: February 9, 2011

John P. Aldrich
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