A little over a month after the U.S. District Court in San Juan ordered Pfizer to pay $1.5 million in damages to a Puerto Rico pharmacist who developed breast cancer after taking menopause medication Prempro, the pharmaceutical is allegedly ready to pay some $330 million to settle similar lawsuits it has pending.
The world’s largest drugmaker is reportedly reaching settlement agreements on more than 2,200 lawsuits alleging its Wyeth unit hid Prempro’s cancer risks, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
“The reported settlement terms are not accurate and beyond that, we do not comment on our litigation strategy,” Chris Loder, a spokesman for New York-based Pfizer, told Bloomberg in a telephone interview.
Still, sources told Bloomberg that each case is expected to be settled for about $150,000.
If completed, the settlement agreement would put an end to eight years of Prempro-related litigation and would mark the start of a new management style at the pharmaceutical.
Prempro, a hormone-replacement therapy was developed to treat menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. Wyeth – acquired by Pfizer in 2009 – manufactured and sold the drug.
In 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative — a National Institutes of Health-sponsored study — showed its possible links to cancer.
“The Women’s Health Initiative study found that women who took Prempro for more than five years faced an increased risk of breast cancer, heart attack and stroke,” the Bloomberg report showed.
More than 6 million women were taking Prempro prior to the release of the findings.
Pfizer has been the target of more than 10,000 cases claiming cancer links. Courts in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada, Minnesota and Puerto Rico have seen Prempro-related cases.
“The drugmaker faced more than 10,000 claims that its menopause drugs caused breast cancer prior the settlements, which were reached during the past five months, the people said. That number included more than 8,000 cases consolidated in federal court in Arkansas and other cases in state courts in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Minnesota,” Bloomberg reported.
In late December, the local federal court ruled that Wyeth failed to appropriately warn Puerto Rico pharmacist Helena Rivera Adams, 62, about the potential health risks related to Prempro.
Rivera-Adams, who used Prempro for 19 months prior to being diagnosed with cancer in January 2002, initially sought $8 million in damages.
Upon learning of the court’s decision, Pfizer Spokesman Christopher Loder said, “We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict and believe there is no basis in fact or law for this decision. The company is weighing its legal options.”
Business reporter with 27 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.