I saw a study the other day regarding the actual cost of medications, Many of these product were marked up 40,000 % that is forty thousand percent and some much much more. The profit potential in these drugs is so high that there is no end to what greed and corruption that will come from these piles of money. Menopause is a hot topic and a profitable topic for many companies, They will make you stop your night sweats but don’t worry about that Brest cancer you develop, it is just a side effect.
Pfizer Inc. doesn’t have to pay more than $27 million in punitive damages to an Arkansas woman who blamed her breast cancer on the company’s menopause drugs, an appeals court ruled in ordering a new trial on the award.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis today upheld a jury’s March 2008 finding that the hormone-replacement drugs helped cause Donna Scroggin’s cancer and its award of actual damages. The three-judge panel also backed a judge’s decision to throw out the punitive award to Scroggin, who alleged two Pfizer units ignored or downplayed the risks of the drugs.
“Scroggin presented sufficient evidence to submit the question of punitive damages to the jury,” the appeals court said in its 41-page ruling. “The evidence presented could allow a jury to find or infer that Wyeth was guilty of malicious conduct within the meaning of Arkansas law.”
Scroggin was among 6 million women who took the pills to treat menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Pfizer’s Wyeth unit has said in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings that it faces more than 9,000 lawsuits over its menopause drugs, which are still on the market. New York-based Pfizer completed the $68 billion purchase of Wyeth on Oct. 15.
“We are pleased with the appeals court’s decision to set aside the punitive verdict, but disappointed that the court upheld the jury’s liability decision,” Pfizer spokesman Christopher Loder said in an e-mailed statement. “We are evaluating our legal options about next steps in this case.”
Jurors awarded Scroggin about $2.7 million in actual damages over her claims the drugs helped cause her breast cancer. The appellate panel rebuffed Pfizer’s challenge to that award. It was the first review by an appeals court of a verdict favoring plaintiffs in a Prempro case, said Jim Morris, one of Scroggin’s lawyers.
“Finally, we have an appellate court who has found it’s reasonable to conclude that Prempro causes breast cancer,” Morris said, adding that he’s looking forward to a new trial. “This jury could come back with $100 million for us this time. We don’t see this as a loss at all.”
Pfizer’s lawyers argued that Scroggin received ample warning about the cancer risks tied to the company’s Prempro and Premarin drugs and chose to continue using them. They contended the entire jury verdict should be thrown out.
Wyeth’s sales of the drugs topped $2 billion before a 2002 study found women using the medicines had a 24 percent higher risk of breast cancer. Provera, on the market since 1959, was developed by Pfizer’s Upjohn unit, acquired in 2003 along with Pharmacia Corp.
Until 1996, many menopausal women combined Premarin, Wyeth’s estrogen-based drug, with progestin-laden Provera to relieve their symptoms. That year, Wyeth combined the two hormones in its Prempro pill.
Scroggin and other women contend executives at the Pfizer units turned a blind eye to studies raising questions about the link between hormone-replacement drugs and breast cancer to pump up sales of their drugs.
U.S. District Judge William Wilson in Little Rock, Arkansas, found Scroggin’s lawyers couldn’t make a “clear and convincing case” that the company’s mishandling of the drugs warranted a punitive award. Still, Wilson upheld the jury’s finding that Pfizer’s drugs were one of the causes of Scroggin’s breast cancer.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected Pfizer’s claims that Scroggin’s cancer was tied to genetics. Testing on the woman “came back negative for the most common breast cancer genes,” Circuit Judge Roger Wollman wrote.
On the punitive damage issue, the appeals court found there was “sufficient evidence upon which a jury could conclude that Wyeth acted with reckless disregard to the risk of injury,” Wollman wrote.
Because of procedural issues with some of the evidence Wilson allowed jurors to hear in the punitive phase, “a new trial may be had on punitive damages alone without injustice to the parties,” the judge said.
The ruling comes a week after a Philadelphia jury ordered Wyeth to pay an undisclosed amount of punitive damages to an Illinois woman who developed breast cancer after taking Prempro.
In September, the same jury awarded Connie Barton $3.7 million in compensatory damages over her cancer linked to Prempro. A judge sealed her punitive award until another Prempro trial in the same courthouse is completed.
The case is Donna Scroggin v. Wyeth, 08-2555, 08-2711, 08- 2713, 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (St. Louis).