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July 24, 2012 / Admin

David and Goliath

The world’s largest drugmaker, Pfizer, indicated it would challenge the latest verdict and an earlier verdict that went against Wyeth. A Philidelphia court recently ordered Pfizer to pay $28 million in punitive damages to a woman who is a breast cancer survivor. She was a consumer of Pfizer’s hormone replacement drugs for 11 years.

The drug giant inherited numerous personal injury lawsuits involving the drugs Premarin and Prempro. These drugs are prescribed by doctors to alleviate the effects of menopause. Pfizer recently acquired Wyeth. Provera is also sold by Pharmacia & Upjohn, the latter acquired by Pfizer in 2003.

There was a $4 million compensatory damages award and $75 million in punitive damages. This came after $6.3 million award that Pfizer was ordered to pay in compensatory damages when the jury concluded that the drug maker failed to warn the consumer about the risks of the drugs Premarin, Prempro and Provera, which contributed to the plaintiff’s cancer.

A jury concluded that Pfizer’s actions warranted punitive damages because its actions constituted a reckless disregard for plaintiff’s safety, health and welfare. Pfizer, of course, intends to appeal, if post trial motions are unsuccessful. The company believes that neither liability nor punitive damages were supported by the evidence presented at trial. Both Wyeth and Pharmacia & Upjohn argued at trial that the drugs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and known risks were included on the labels.

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