A Philadelphia jury has awarded $75 million in punitive damages to an Illinois woman who developed cancer after taking one of Pfizer’s menopause drugs. The punitive award is about 20 times greater than the $3.7 million awarded in actual damages.
More than 6 million women have taken Prempro, a hormone replacement drug used to treat symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings during menopause. A study in 2002 by the Women’s Health Initiative suggested women who use hormone replacement drugs are at higher risk for developing breast cancer.
According to news reports, the Illinois woman took Prempro for five years before she developed breast cancer in 2002. Since the lawsuits against Pfizer’s Wyeth unit began in 2006, the company has lost five of the eight cases with 33 more scheduled for trial.
In an earlier case, three Nevada women were awarded $99 million in punitive damages, which was later reduced to $35 million and is now being appealed.