Connie Barton and Donna Kendall have something in common: they stood up to one of the largest and most powerful drug companies in court – and won. Today in Philadelphia, Penn., their verdicts against Wyeth (a division of Pfizer) over its hormone therapy drugs Premarin and Prempro were released. In each case, the jury awarded the women significant compensatory and punitive damages ranging from more than $34 million to $78 million. A third punitive verdict that was awarded in 2007 in the Daniel v. Wyeth case was scheduled to be released today as well. However, Wyeth was granted emergency relief this morning to keep the third verdict sealed.
The evidence at these trials showed Wyeth’s unrelenting campaign to make billions of dollars in profit from these drugs while keeping the truth about the drugs’ dangers secret. Jurors were shocked to learn that:
- Wyeth was on notice of the need to study whether combination hormone therapy causes breast cancer as early as 1975, but failed to conduct a single breast cancer study over the course of the next three decades – despite over a dozen red flags that breast cancer was a safety problem;
- Instead of studying the breast cancer risk, Wyeth took active steps to downplay, dismiss and contain the release of data from other institution’s studies that showed such risk;
- Even worse, Wyeth ghost-wrote dozens of medical articles that minimized the breast cancer risk and exaggerated the benefits of hormone therapy and then published these articles in reputable medical journals under independent doctor’s names;
- It was not until a government study was stopped early because of breast cancer that the world learned the truth;
- Studies now confirm that 200,000 women – grandmothers, mothers, sisters and wives – would not have suffered breast cancer but for their use of combination hormone therapy drugs.
Today’s verdicts clearly show that when jurors hear how Wyeth put huge profits over the safety of patients, they will react with a strong message of outrage.
As Michael Richmond, a jury foreperson in a Prempro trial, explains: “Wyeth had no concern whatsoever for the health of the patients. They were only concerned about their profits.” Today’s verdicts – with significant punitive awards – confirm the anger of a community when the truth is learned.
Of the 12 verdicts to date, Plaintiffs have been awarded money by 10 of the 12 juries. For a summary of all hormone therapy verdicts to date, see the HRT Jury Verdict Chart. In addition, 13 women have settled their hormone therapy claims with Wyeth or Pfizer.
The verdicts released today are:
Donna Kendall v. Wyeth (Phila. CCP, June Term, 2004, No. 0965): Jury Verdict
Compensatory Damages: $6,300,000 Punitive Damages: $28,000,000
Connie Barton v. Wyeth (Phila. CCP, April Term 2004, No. 06301): Jury Verdict
Compensatory Damages: $3,746,344 Punitive Damages: $75,000,000