Pfizer Inc. has asked a judge in Philadelphia to order the removal of an Internet video about its menopause medicines that the company says is misleading and aimed at swaying potential jurors in future trials over the pills.
The video, posted by plaintiffs' lawyers who recently won more than $78 million in damages in a Common Pleas Court trial over Pfizer's Prempro hormone-replacement drug, violates state legal-ethics rules and threatens the integrity of pending cases, Pfizer's attorneys said in a court filing Monday. The video, titled "Prempro News Segment," is posted to the YouTube.com Web site.
In a statement yesterday, Pfizer called the video "self-serving" and said it failed to disclose its sponsorship and "is packaged as a phony news story."
"Plaintiff's counsel should be compelled to remove this video from the Internet and refrain from making any further inflammatory and prejudicial public statements" until litigation is resolved, Pfizer's motion said.
More than six million women have taken hormone-replacement medicines to treat menopause symptoms. Scientists in Pfizer's Wyeth unit combined two drugs to create Prempro in the 1990s. The drugs are still on the market. New York-based Pfizer acquired Wyeth in October.
The video was posted after a Philadelphia jury's award of $78.7 million in damages to Connie Barton was unsealed last month. Barton sued Wyeth claiming its menopause drugs helped cause her breast cancer.
The five-minute video has been viewed nearly 1,500 times on Google Inc.'s YouTube Web site since its Nov. 22 posting. In it, breast-cancer victims discuss their cases in a newsmagazine format while attorneys accuse Wyeth of minimizing the risks of Prempro.
"You can't bias a jury with the truth," Zoe Littlepage, one of Barton's Houston attorneys, said Tuesday. "Everything that's in that video is in the public record."
Lawyers with Prempro suits pending against Pfizer made the video to spare Barton the burden of multiple TV interviews after the total amount of her verdicts were unsealed, Littlepage said.
Wyeth has lost six of nine jury verdicts, including the last four in a row, over the drugs. All the verdicts are being challenged.
About 35 Prempro cases have been set for trial so far, and 19 have been thrown out by judges or withdrawn by plaintiffs, according to Pfizer officials. Wyeth also has settled at least 5 cases over the drugs.