A Little Rock, Ark., federal jury found Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Upjohn (a Pfizer unit) liable for $27 million in punitive damages to Donna Scroggin, who sued the drug manufacturers in 2004 after developing breast cancer after taking hormone-replacement therapy. The award includes $19.3 million from Wyeth and $7.7 from Upjohn.
Wyeth manufactures Premarin, an estrogen replacement, and Prempro, which is a combination of estrogen and progestin. These, along with Upjohn’s Provera, which contains progestin, are commonly prescribed to treat the unpleasant effects of menopause.
Sales of Wyeth’s hormone-replacement drugs topped $2 billion before a 2002 study linked the medicines to a higher risk of breast cancer, according to a report published on Bloomberg.com. The article states that the Women’s Health Initiative study, which was sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, concluded that women who took a combination of estrogen and progestin, as found in Prempro, increased their risk of getting invasive breast cancer by 24 percent.