Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HRT and Damages

Pfizer currently owns companies that produce hormone replacement therapies, both with estrogen alone and with combination estrogen -progestin. According to an article in the New York Times (D. Wilson) earlier this week, there are over 10,000 lawsuits pending in this country (USA) over Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and breast cancer. In the same article it was said that 10 out of 12 cases that went to jury were concluded in favor of the women. The pills still bring in over a billion dollars a year, though at one time that was closer to 2 billion. Even after a case was lost this week, Pfizer's shares were UP!

What I find fascinating is that the hormone pills, though found to be a causal factor in breast cancer, are still FDA approved for use in treating menopausal symptoms. What has changed since the Women's Health Initiative study uncovered the link, is the label. The label on the product now cautions that the pills should be used at the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time.

Women who are involved in the lawsuits used HRT for years, as was once the standard of care. The lawsuits are often twofold. There is compensation claims and there is punitive damages. Some lawyers are alleging that the companies, Wyeth and Pharmacia, knew the risks before the federal government stepped in and they tried to down play them.

Pfizer contends that the handful of cases that they have lost will be overturned on appeal because they are not doing anything wrong. One point they make is that the drug is STILL FDA approved for use. Now how can you argue with that and WHY is that?

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