We’ve all heard this story line before, but it never become less heartbreaking: patient is prescribed a drug to alleviate symptoms related to commonplace medical issue. Unknown risks related to the drug surface. Patient develops life-threatening illness as a result of trying to treat a lesser issue.
Too often, these tragic stories have equally upsetting endings when victims do not receive justice through the court system. But sometimes, the responsible pharmaceutical companies are held accountable, and some degree of justice is served.
The latter scenario is what happened in mid-April, when a federal court in New Haven ruled that Pfizer’s Wyeth unit was liable for causing the breast cancer of Connecticut-resident Margaret Fraser. Ms. Fraser took the menopausal drug, Prempro, before developing the disease.
Bloomberg reports that the judge has yet to rule on how much Ms. Fraser will fully be rewarded, but that the number will total at least $4 million. The verdict was given on April 18th, when the jury concluded that Prempro was an “unreasonably dangerous product” and that Wyeth’s handling of the drug “was reckless and they had misrepresented the risks and benefits of its drug to patients and doctors,” according to one of Fraser’s lawyers.
New York-based drug maker Pfizer has been under a lot of heat since a 2002 study revealed that cancer risk increased with the use of Prempro and similar drugs that treat menopause symptoms. Since 2006, Pfizer’s Wyeth and Upjohn units have lost more than half of the 20 Prempro cases that have been decided by juries since the trials against the company began in 2006, according to Bloomberg.
While there have been many more than 20 cases against the pharmaceutical company, many have settled out of court, had the rewards reduced, or been thrown out before or after trial.
Most recently, a Philadelphia jury awarded three women upwards of $72 million for the suffering and expenses linked to their cases of breast cancer, which they believed to be caused by the menopause medication. Ultimately, Pfizer settled the cases for undisclosed amounts of money.
In 2010, the Journal Of The American Medical Association published a study that found that Prempro increased not only the risk of developing breast cancer, but also the likelihood that the disease would spread, as well as the probability of dying of breast cancer.
According to USA Today, these results come from a study that followed 13,000 women for an average of eight years after they had stopped taking Prempro. Every year during the study, roughly 1.3 out of 10,000 women died because of Prempro.
The 2010 study was conducted as a follow-up to the original study that raised a red flag about Prempro in 2002. That study followed 16,000 women who were taking Prempro or a placebo. The study ultimately had to be halted in 2002, when Prempro was found to increase the risk of developing breast cancer, heart attack and stroke. Additionally, a study published last year linked use of the drug to an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
Have you become sick from taking a medication that was prescribed for you by a doctor, or purchased over-the-counter? If so, you may be protected by legal rights that entitle you to compensation for your suffering and losses. Contact our team of attorneys today for a free consultation. Allow us to explain to you your rights and legal options.