Processing Magazine

Jury Orders $27M Award in Hormone Suit

March 7, 2008
A federal jury recently ordered Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Upjohn Co. to pay more than $27 million to a Little Rock woman who got breast cancer after taking hormone replacement therapy, the Associated Press is reporting.

The jury ruled that Donna Scroggin, who sued the companies in 2004, should receive $19.3 million from Wyeth and $7.7 million from Upjohn Co. in punitive damages. Jurors last month ruled in favor of Scroggin and said that Wyeth inadequately warned her that its drugs Premarin and Prempro carried an increased risk of breast cancer. The lawsuit also named Upjohn Co., the maker of Provera.

The jury ruled last month that Scroggin receive $2.75 million in compensatory damages. Wyeth said it plans to appeal the ruling.

Lawsuits against Wyeth have had mixed results. A Little Rock woman, Helene Rush, lost her case against Wyeth last year and a federal appeals court upheld that decision in February. A federal jury in Little Rock also ruled for Wyeth in 2006 in the first in a series of lawsuits against the New Jersey drug maker.

An Ohio woman was initially awarded $3 million in a case in Pennsylvania, though a judge later overturned the award. In Reno, Nev., last year, jurors awarded $134 million to three Nevada women who sued over the hormone therapy. But a judge in February cut that amount to about $58 million total -- $23 million in compensatory and $35 million in punitive damages.

The Nevada judgment is the largest award to date against the Madison, N.J.-based company, which faces about 5,300 similar lawsuits across the country in state and federal courts.

All the cases involve the drugs Premarin, an estrogen replacement, and Prempro, a combination of estrogen and progestin.

Both drugs remain on the market and carry the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and both continue to be prescribed annually to hundreds of thousands of women to alleviate symptoms of menopause.