Reno, Nev., (AP) – A jury has levied a $134.5 million judgment against the pharmaceutical maker Wyeth in a lawsuit filed by three Nevada women who contended that the company’s hormone-replacement drugs had caused their breast cancer. It was the largest award to date against Wyeth, of Madison, N.J..
The panel deliberated for two days before announcing its verdict late Wednesday in favor of Jeraldine Scofield, 75, of Fallon; Arlene Rowatt, 67, of Incline Village; and Pamela Forrester, 64, of Yerington.
A Wyeth spokesman, Douglas Petkus, said Thursday that the company would have no comment. But in an e-mail message to The Associated Press, he noted that 20 similar cases had gone to trial or been otherwise resolved. Of those, he said, three were resolved in favor of the company, two plaintiff verdicts were set aside by the courts and three cases were dismissed on summary judgment. Twelve other cases were dropped by the plaintiffs before trial, he said.
During the trial concluded here, the women testified that they had started taking Premarin, an estrogen replacement, and Prempro, a combination of estrogen and progestin, to help offset menopausal symptoms, but were taken off the therapy when they developed breast cancer.
Wyeth lawyers said the company sponsored or participated in studies on the risks of breast cancer, and detailed the risks on warning labels included with each bottle of the drug.
Last October, Wyeth reached an undisclosed settlement with a fourth woman who had been part of the lawsuit. That woman, Carol McCreary, was found to have breast cancer in 2001 after taking Prempro for about 33 months. She died in April at 59.