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Appeal Rejected in Hormone Replacement Drug Case

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By Jason Beahm on June 22, 2010 7:14 AM

The United States Supreme Court has rejected Pfizer's appeal of a $2.7 million verdict resulting from its Prempro hormone-replacement treatment being linked to breast cancer. Pfizer requested the appeal after a lower court upheld the compensatory award of $2.7 million against its Wyeth unit, but ordered a new trial on punitive damages, which the jury had set at $27 million. Pfizer bought Wyeth last year for $68 billion.

Pfizer argued that it was wrong for the lower court to allow a retrial on a portion of the case, contending that any new trial should cover the entire matter. The U.S. Supreme Court, by denying certiorari, did not find Pfizer's case compelling.

The case Wyeth v. Scroggin was brought by Donna Scroggin, who took the Prempro hormone drug to treat menopause symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Scroggin was later diagnosed with breast cancer and filed suit against Pfizer, in light of a a 2002 study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health that showed a link between the medicine and breast cancer risk.

"While we are disappointed with the court's decision, it does not change the prior ruling by the appeals court, which affirmed the dismissal of punitive damages as to Upjohn and ordered a new trial on punitive damages for Wyeth," Pfizer said in a statement, reported by Businessweek.

Businessweek reports that Jim Morris, Scroggin's lawyer, said in a telephone interview that the decision, "validates our evidence that shows Wyeth hid the health risks of this drug and the drugs caused breast cancer in thousands of women....We are looking forward to asking another jury to decide the extent of Wyeth's wrongful conduct."

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