First Prempro Trial Begins
The first of more than 5,000 lawsuits filed over Prempro, a combination hormone replacement therapy manufactured by Wyeth, will proceed to trial on Monday in federal court in Little Rock, Ark., Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times reports. As many as six million women had taken Prempro, which contains estrogen and progestin, to treat menopause symptoms before results from the Women's Health Initiative released in 2002 linked the medication with a 24% increase in risk for invasive breast cancer and other health risks.
According to the NIH Web site, the increased risk translates to eight additional cases of breast cancer per 10,000 women annually (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 8/21). In the first Prempro lawsuit to reach trial, plaintiff Linda Reeves, an Arkansas woman, alleges that the medication, which she took for eight years, caused her to develop breast cancer.
According to the lawsuit, Wyeth was aware of the link between Prempro and increased risk for breast cancer prior to the release of the WHI results but did not inform the public. Wyeth sales representatives "are expected to testify that they were told to minimize the drugs' risks," the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Wyeth has denied the allegations and has said that the Prempro label includes a warning about increased risk for breast cancer (DeMillo, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/21). Wyeth officials have said that the company plans to defend each Prempro lawsuit individually.
The second Prempro trial will begin in September in state court in Philadelphia (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 8/21).