New Verdicts: Prempro and Premarin

$134.1 Million Against Wyeth for Menopause Drug

Wyeth has been ordered to pay $134 million, including $99 million in punitive damages, for its ”conscious indifference to patient safety” for failure to warn of the risk of breast cancer from hormone-replacement drugs Prempro and Premarin. Rowatt, et. al., v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., 04-01699, Second Judicial District Court, State of Nevada, Oct. 12, 2007.

Jurors considered ordering Wyeth to pay more than $1 billion in punitive damages before settling on the lower amount.

Prempro contains the hormones estrogen and progestin; Premarin is an estrogen-only pill. The pills were manufactured to treat menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. Both pills were taken by as many as six million women before a 2002 study linked the drugs to cancer. A 2002 study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that women who received a combination of estrogen and progestin had a 24 percent higher risk of invasive breast cancer.

To date, Wyeth is facing about 5,300 suits in connection with the two drugs. The Oct. 12 verdict is the company’s fourth loss in suits over the drugs since trials began in August 2006. This verdict is the largest to date in a hormone-replacement case and the eight-largest verdict of any kind this year.


Sandra Cassidy is corporate counsel for Plaintiff Support Services, a full-service litigation finance company and a founding company of the American Litigation Finance Association. ©Copyright 2007, Plaintiff Support Services All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or otherwise used without the express written consent of Plaintiff Support Services.