Pfizer ordered to pay $72M in Prempro case

A Philadelphia jury awarded $72 million to three women who blame their breast cancer on Pfizer's hormone-replacement drugs. It's just the latest in the drugmaker's battle over hormone drugs made by Wyeth, which it purchased in 2009, and its own Upjohn unit.

As Bloomberg reports, the jury designated $20 million in compensatory damages for cancer survivor Susan Elfont, $27.85 million to Bernadette Kalenkoski, and $24.75 million to Judy Mulderig. The three women claim that they developed breast cancer after long-term therapy with the estrogen drug Premarin and/or the estrogen/progestin combo treatment Prempro. Their attorney told jurors that none of them had a family history of the disease, and experts determined that the menopause drugs helped trigger their cancers.

"We are obviously disappointed with the verdict in this case," Pfizer ($PFE) spokesman Christopher Loder told the news service. "Once the verdict is finalized, the company will weigh its legal options to determine how it will continue with the case."

The verdict brings to 10 the number of cases Pfizer has lost, or slightly more than half of the 18 that have gone to trial. The company has persuaded judges to toss out some of those verdicts after trial, Bloomberg reports, and to reduce damage awards in other cases. Jurors will weigh potential punitive damages in the Philadelphia case beginning Friday.

- read the Bloomberg coverage

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