Woman awarded millions in Prempro HRT breast cancer trial

A woman in the United States has been awarded damages to the tune of $3 million after taking drug manufacturer Wyeth to court over it's postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy Prempro.

The jury in Philadelphia has found that Prempro caused invasive breast cancer in Jennie Nelson, a 67 year old Ohio woman and awarded her and her husband damages of $3 million.

Wyeth disagrees with the verdict and plans to appeal but a previous Philadelphia jury also found in favour of Mrs Nelson in October but the judge in that trial overturned the verdict and declared a mistrial.

The original jury at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas had awarded Nelson and her husband $1.5 million in compensatory damages but this time, Nelson was awarded $2.4 million and her husband $600,000.

At the time the reason for the mistrial declaration was not revealed but juror misconduct has been suggested.

Nelson's attorney Tobias Millrood has said that Wyeth put sales ahead of patient safety and even though both cases had been heard on terms established by Wyeth, the juries still found that Prempro causes breast cancer.

He says it is especially rewarding that two separate juries have believed in the merits of the case.

Millrood says the evidence presented at the trial revealed that Wyeth has known for decades that postmenopausal hormone therapy causes breast cancer but chose to avoid testing the dangerous hormone combination and delayed stronger warnings for fear of flagging sales.

Nelson who is from Dayton, Ohio, took Prempro for a period of six years and blamed it for causing her invasive lobular breast cancer in 2001 which entailed her having a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

She remains on anti-hormonal medication.

Wyeth has argued that it acted responsibly in the promotion of its hormone replacement drugs and in disclosing to physicians and patients the health risks associated with them.

The drug giant is facing as many as 5,000 lawsuits over its hormone replacement therapies, which were used by millions of women to control the effects of menopause.

However the drugs remain on the market despite a major government-sponsored health study that found using them for five years or more can increase the risk of breast cancer.

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