Wyeth and Pharmacia & Upjohn, which is now part of Pfizer Inc., have been told by a federal judge to pay $5.1 million in compensation to a woman from Utah, according to the Salt Lake Tribune
. The woman, according to medical evidence, developed breast cancer after using a hormone drug manufactured by the company.
The woman, 73-year-old Toshiko Okuda, had been undergoing hormone therapy using the Wyeth drugs for seventeen years. She developed breast cancer a decade ago. The woman had been prescribed the drugs when she was aged 47 in order to ease menopause symptoms following a hysterectomy.
Hormone replacement therapy
(HRT) is a system of medical treatment for surgically menopausal or postmenopausal women. It is based on the idea that the treatment may prevent discomfort caused by diminished circulating estrogen and progesterone hormones. It involves the use of one or more of a group of medications designed to artificially boost hormone levels.
The decision over the $5.1 million fine was made by a federal jury after a month long trial held in Salt Lake City. Law360
notes that the jury felt that insufficient warnings of the potential side effects of the hormone drugs Premarin and Prempro were given
Representatives of Pfizer have said that they will contest the decision. However, as the Standard-Examiner
points out, several thousand other women have filed lawsuits over this and related issues, so there may well be more compensation arrangements to follow, especially if the appeal is upheld.