The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing a new trial in the case of a woman who got breast cancer after taking hormone replacement therapy and is seeking punitive damages against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
The justices today rejected Wyeth's attempt to block the trial because it is to be limited to punitive damages. Wyeth also wanted the high court to throw out $2.75 million compensatory damages that the woman, Donna Scroggin, won after suing Wyeth and Upjohn Co., another drugmaker. Both companies now are owned by Pfizer Inc.
A jury also awarded Scroggin $27 million in punitive damages after concluding that Wyeth inadequately warned her that its drugs Premarin and Prempro carried an increased risk of breast cancer.
A federal judge struck down the punitive damages award, saying certain testimony from former Food and Drug Administration official Dr. Suzanne Parisian, who was the plaintiff's regulatory expert, shouldn't have been allowed at trial.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ordered the partial retrial, limited to punitive damages.
"We continue to believe that Wyeth and Pharmacia & Upjohn acted responsibly by conducting or supporting more than 180 studies on hormone therapy's benefits and risks, keeping the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully informed, and providing proper, accurate and science-based information to patients and doctors," Pfizer said in a statement.
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