Hormone Replacement Therapy Users File Class-Action Against Wyeth Suit Over Health Risks
"[M]ore bad news" for Wyeth came yesterday as a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of women taking the company's hormone replacement therapy Prempro, the Los Angeles Times reports (White, Los Angeles Times, 7/12). A federal study on HRT was terminated on Monday, three years ahead of schedule, because researchers determined that HRT carries a "slight but significant" increase in the risk of invasive breast cancer and other diseases (California Healthline, 7/9). The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, seeks the establishment of a "medical monitoring fund" that would pay for medical checkups to track adverse health developments in all women who have taken Prempro, as well as refund all Prempro users and compensate those who have experienced "personal injuries and death" as a result of the drug. According to the suit, Wyeth was aware of HRT's "serious side effects" but "continued to market the product by providing false and misleading information with regard to its safety." Sales of Prempro totaled more than $2 billion last year. Law firm Schiffrin & Barroway, which is representing the plaintiffs, did not comment on how many women will be eligible for or included in the class action. Wyeth spokesperson Douglas Petkus said the company has not seen any documentation on the suit, adding, "We don't think that there is any legal or factual basis for any claims against Wyeth and Prempro, or any related to the study."
Philadelphia plaintiffs' attorney Stephen Sheller, who is not involved in the Prempro suit, said Wyeth should "brace itself" for more suits from HRT users, saying, "You are going to have a bunch of cases seeking medical monitoring and claiming the company unjustly enriched itself by selling this drug." The Times notes that Wyeth recently faced another major class-action suit over charges that its diet drug fen-phen damaged heart valves. In that case, the company reserved $13.2 billion to settle claims (Los Angeles Times, 7/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.