As a dangerous medication lawyer, I was gratified to read that a woman from Peoria, Ill. was awarded $6.3 million in damages after a finding that her breast cancer was caused by hormone replacement therapies. Reuters reported Nov. 20 on the largest Prempro award to date, handed down to Donna Kendall of Decatur, Ill. Kendall, 66, sued pharmaceutical company Pfizer after spending 11 years taking the hormone replacement drugs Prempro and Provera, products of Pfizer corporate units. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, the same year that new research showed dramatic increases in breast cancer and cardiovascular problems for postmenopausal women taking the drugs. In her lawsuit, Kendall said Pfizer failed to adequately warn her and other patients of these risks. The jury indicated that it planned to award punitive damages as well, suggesting that it felt there was evidence of serious wrongdoing.
Prempro was once widely recommended for post-menopausal women, to treat symptoms of life after menopause. However, that changed after the 2002 study from the Women’s Health Initiative at the National Institutes of Health. That long-term study showed a substantially increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes among users of Prempro, Provera and Premarin. In fact, that study was ended early because of concerns for the participants’ health. Later studies confirmed the link and suggested that Prempro may also raise women’s risk of blood clots and dementia. Perhaps most damningly of all, later evidence showed that Wyeth, a unit of Pfizer, paid medical ghostwriters to plant articles in medical journals under doctors’ names. At least some of the articles denied the breast cancer link altogether, triggering multiple lawsuits and a Congressional investigation.
As a pharmaceutical liability attorney, I am pleased to see the justice system doing its job with these drugs. By now, most observers agree that the FDA approval process, while important, is not enough to ensure that drugs are safe. Too many drugs have slipped through the cracks in recent years, including drugs that have since been linked to life-threatening diseases. In a few cases, pharmaceutical companies have also been caught misleading the public, as with Prempro, using deceptive advertising, biased medical studies and unethical corporate policies. In addition to causing unnecessary deaths and lowered quality of life to patients and their families, these drugs can also trigger six or even seven figures in bills for medical care that patients would never have otherwise needed. As the FDA itself once acknowledged, lawsuits like this one help incentivize drug companies to stay honest by generating severe financial costs and negative publicity when the issues are publicly and fully aired.
If you or a loved one was hurt by taking a prescription drug you thought you could trust, the Lowe Law Firm can help. Based in St. Louis and Belleville, Ill., our dangerous drug attorneys represent people from around the United States who suffered a death in the family, a serious injury or a disease from taking a drug that should never have been on the market. Even when the drugs’ manufacturers never lied or withheld information from the public, they are still legally liable for failure to warn patients of the drugs’ side effects, under strict liability laws in every state. As in this case, drug makers who are guilty of unethical and deceptive behavior may also be liable for punitive damages, which are payments intended to punish willfully illegal or unethical actions.
Carey, Danis & Lowe offers free consultations to all potential clients, so there’s no risk in telling us about your case and learning more about your options. To set up a free, confidential evaluation of your case, please send a message through our Web site or call 1-877-678-3400 today.