"The jury of five men and three women may award additional punitive damages
if it finds Wyeth failed to warn. "
Failed to warn about this
They all fail to warn about vaccines
US jury says Wyeth drug caused woman's breast cancer
By Jon HurdleWed Oct 4, 2006 5:28 PM ET
A jury on Wednesday awarded a woman $1 million and her husband $500,000 in
compensatory damages after finding that Wyeth's hormone replacement drug
Prempro was a cause of her breast cancer.
The trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas now moves into a second
phase to begin on October 12, in which the jury will decide whether Wyeth
failed to warn of the dangers of Prempro.
The jury of five men and three women may award additional punitive damages
if it finds Wyeth failed to warn. However, if it finds that the company
adequately warned of the drug's risks no damages will be payable, including
the compensatory damages awarded by the jury on Wednesday.
"The plaintiff has the burden of proof that the defendant's conduct is
negligent, and that it failed to adequately warn of the dangers," Judge
Norman Ackerman instructed the jurors.
The lawsuit charged that Wyeth was negligent in the testing, manufacture
and marketing of its hormone replacement therapy drugs.
"We disagree that there is any scientific basis to support the jury's
finding of a causal link between hormone replacement therapy and the
plaintiff's breast cancer," Wyeth spokesman Chris Garland said.
"This is one jury's verdict and cannot be used to predict the outcome of
future cases," he added.
In the first federal Prempro trial, a jury last month in Little Rock,
Arkansas found Wyeth was not negligent and had adequately warned patients
and doctors of the cancer risk associated with the drug.
Wyeth is facing some 5,000 lawsuits involving its hormone replacement drugs.
"Lawyers all around the country are watching what happens in these cases to
get a sense of whether Prempro plaintiffs have a chance of winning," said
Howard Erichson, professor of law at Seton Hall Law School in Newark, New
Deutsche Bank analyst Barbara Ryan predicted that few Prempro plaintiffs
will win punitive damages because Wyeth immediately changed the drug's
label to reflect an increased cancer risk after a federally sponsored trial
showed long-term use of the drug in combination with the female hormone
replacement estrogen caused a 26 percent higher risk of breast cancer in
women aged 50 to 79 who had not undergone hysterectomies.
"Right away they appropriately relabeled the drug, which resulted in a 60
percent decline in the number of prescriptions" for Prempro, Ryan said. "So
the company has very strong defenses against punitive damages."
The plaintiff, Jennie Nelson, 67, of Dayton, Ohio, took Prempro for about
six years and blamed it for her breast cancer. As a result of the cancer,
she underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The jury deliberated for about 33 hours over six days before reaching its
It had appeared to be deadlocked by the second day, but was urged to
continue its deliberations by the judge. About three hours before the
verdict was announced, the judge replaced one male juror with an alternate.
Nelson's attorneys declined to comment on the reason for the juror
replacement, but said the deliberation time reflected a jury that had taken
a careful approach to its task.
The market shrugged off the news and Wyeth shares finished off their
earlier highs but still up 26 cents at $51.18 on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Additional reporting by Anna Driver and Ransdell Pierson in New York)