Prempro and Premarin Blamed for Cancer in Lawsuit

posted on:
March 28, 2007

author:
Staff

Gaithersburg woman files lawsuit in cancer case alleging menopause medications are responsible for her illnesses.

The fear of not seeing her four grandchildren grow up hit Diane Wisneski the hardest.

Breast cancer struck twice for Wisneski, 66, of Gaithersburg, first in 2001 and again in 2004.

It was around the same time the World Trade Center happened, Wisneski said of her first diagnosis, referring to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It felt like my whole world had collapsed.

The second case appeared shortly after she had a bad premonition while on a trip with friends in Mexico, she said.

She survived both bouts and is healthy, after chemotherapy treatments for the first case and reconstructive surgery for each incident.

Wisneski filed a lawsuit in 2004 against New Jersey-based drug manufacturer Wyeth, alleging the hormone-therapy drugs Prempro and Premarin she took for post-menopausal symptoms triggered both cancer cases.

Heidi Hubbard, a Washington, D.C., attorney for Wyeth denied the drugs are responsible and noted Monday that both drugs remain on the market, are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are prescribed annually to hundreds of thousands of women.

Wisneskis lawyer Robert Jenner of Baltimore noted that a July 2002 study by the Womens Health Initiative, part of the National Institutes of Health, found the drugs significantly increased the chance of breast cancer depending on how long the person took the drugs.

Information announced at a San Antonio breast conference in 2006 also revealed a 14 percent decrease in breast cancer rates over the last few years, which coincided with a decrease in use of hormone therapy since the WHI study, Jenner said.

A few cases made headlines for cancer victims winning million-dollar lawsuits against Wyeth, such as $3 million awarded last month to an Ohio woman.

Jenner said Wisneskis case, along with others, is pending a remand by a federal judge that would bring the case to Maryland for trial. He couldnt estimate how long that might take.

Meanwhile, Wisneskis husband, Harris, a prostate cancer survivor, said he is thankful his wife is alive.

The second time around, the rate of survival is much smaller, he said.

Diane Wisneski said she is grateful that she can watch her grandchildren grow up.

Last week she visited her 5-year-old granddaughters theatrical performance at her private school.

I feel blessed any time I get to see them, she said.

Wisneski said in light of her experiences, shes learned to accept the side effects of menopause.

Ive still got my hot flashes, she said. I live with them.

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