hormone drug case opens in Philadelphia
a packed house in a shoe box of a City Hall courtroom Tuesday, attorneys
Rainey Booth and Beth A. Wilkinson offered opposing views of Prempro, a
hormonal replacement drug that has been linked to breast cancer. Booth told
a Philadelphia jury that over the coming weeks he and his team will show
that the drug made by Wyeth was among the causes of the breast cancer developed
by Sharon Buxley, 66, a Tennessee resident formerly of Allentown, and Joy
Henry, 75, of Harrisburg.
a former federal prosecutor representing Wyeth, countered there were no
direct links between the drug and the cancers, and no science to support
trial before Common Pleas Judge James Murray Lynn is the latest court test
for Prempro and Wyeth, which is now a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc. The drug,
which combines the hormones estrogen and progestin, was widely used from
1995 to 2002 to treat menopause symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats,
and mood swings.
however, a federal study of 10,000 women linked Prempro to higher rates
of heart attacks, breast cancer, and other problems. Since the study, thousands
of suits have been filed against Wyeth and Pfizer by women who had used
Prempro and another hormone replacement drug, Premarin. Wyeth, in a 2009
regulatory filing, reported it faced 8,000 Prempro suits.
to Joshua Wenderoff, spokesman for Wyeth, the drug maker has been successful
in 26 of 31 cases that have reached trial stage. Those in which it has been
unsuccessful have proved hugely expensive, however.
for instance, a Philadelphia jury awarded $9.45 million to an Alabama woman
who claimed Prempro caused her breast cancer. Last year, Philadelphia juries
awarded $100 million to women in two separate cases involving Prempro.
case before Lynn on Tuesday, both sides presented their opening statements.
a trial attorney from Florida, told the jurors that they would hear evidence
that would show the Prempro "promoted" the cancers that Buxton
and Henry developed by triggering rapid growth of both healthy and abnormal
cells. The spread of the abnormal cells, he said, was the ultimate root
of cancers in the women, both of whom were in court.
who as a U.S. attorney prosecuted the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh,
told the jury the evidence would show there is no simple explanation for
any cancer, including those suffered by Buxton and Henry. And there was
no evidence to link the women's condition to Prempro, which remains on the
market and continues to be prescribed by doctors, she said.
we have great sympathy for Mrs. Buxton, Mrs. Henry, and their families,
the facts in these two cases do not support their claims for damages as
a result of their use of hormone therapy," Wyeth said in a statement
The case is expected
to last four to eight weeks.
K. Hepp - IInquirer Staff Writer
staff writer Christopher K. Hepp at 215-854-2208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.