A Pfizer Inc. unit's menopause drug was not a cause of a woman's breast cancer, and the drugmaker is not liable for damages, a Philadelphia jury found yesterday. In a similar case, a jury here Monday had found against Pfizer and ordered nearly $10 million in damages.
In the latest case, the Common Pleas jury said, after a day of deliberations, that Prempro, made by Pfizer's Wyeth unit, was not a cause of Cheryl Foust's breast cancer. Jurors did find that Wyeth failed to adequately warn Foust's prescribers about Prempro.
Foust, of Richmond, Ind., took Prempro for about four years before developing the disease in 2003. She died in 2005 at age 56.
"There's overwhelming evidence the prescribers knew of the breast-cancer risk," Beth A. Wilkinson, a lawyer representing the company, told the jury in her closing arguments. Foust "made the decision that she needed to go on hormone therapy" and said in a 2005 bedside interview that she had been warned of the risk, Wilkinson said.
The verdict is Wyeth's fourth victory in 11 cases over Prempro to have gone before juries. It lost a case Monday when a jury awarded a retired school bus driver from Alabama, Audrey Singleton, $9.45 million for her cancer. Pfizer said it intended to appeal that decision.
"While we have great sympathy for Mrs. Foust's family, we believe the facts in this case confirm our position that Wyeth acted responsibly by conducting or supporting more than 180 studies on hormone therapy's benefits and risks," Pfizer said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
Former users have filed more than 8,000 suits against Wyeth and another Pfizer unit, Pharmacia & Upjohn, over menopause drugs, according to a Wyeth regulatory filing last year.
Prempro is a combination of the medications Provera and Premarin. More than six million women took the hormone pills to treat symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and mood swings before a study in 2002 found links between the drugs and cancer.
"Nothing about today's verdict changes the landscape of this litigation," said James A. Morris, an Austin, Texas, lawyer for the Foust family. "We will continue to fight on in other cases." He called the outcome "a tremendous loss" for the family.