NY justice tosses 23 plaintiffs' HRT claims

Pfizer scored a court victory in the ongoing hormone-replacement litigation: A New York judge threw out lawsuits filed by 23 women who claimed that hormone replacement therapy had caused their breast cancer. In his ruling Justice Martin Shulman wrote, "[A] review of the material and the record as a whole contain no evidence of fraud, misrepresentation or deception," (as quoted by Pharmalot).

Two things were important to Shulman's ruling: First, the ongoing debate over the risks versus the benefits of hormone therapy; "this debate does not appear to be settled," he writes. Second, "the potential risk of contracting breast cancer from taking HRT medication was well known and at all times out there in the stream of public information."

That second item, of course, echoes the defense Pfizer released earlier this week in response to New York Times coverage of HRT. The company says that the risk of breast cancer had been disclosed on the hormone drugs' labeling for years.

Plaintiffs dispute that the disclosures were adequate, and their cases include documents that suggest Wyeth tried to, in the words of one ghostwriting-firm's publication plan for the company, "diminish the negative perceptions associated with estrogens and cancer" (as pointed out by Pharmalot). And at least one other judge has ruled that there's evidence that Wyeth--which Pfizer bought earlier this year--may have failed to do enough to warn about the risks.

- read the Pharmalot post

ALSO: Pfizer asked a judge in Philadelphia to order the removal of a YouTube video about its HRT meds, saying the video is misleading and is aimed at swaying potential jurors in future trials over the pills. Report