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A federal court jury in Arkansas returned a verdict on Sept. 15 in pharmaceutical company Wyeth’s favor in the nation’s first trial in multidistrict litigation for products liability suits filed over hormone-replacement therapy drugs. Houston firm Littlepage & Booth represented plaintiff Linda Reeves, who alleges the breast cancer she was diagnosed with in 2000 was caused by the Premarin and Prempro she took from around 1983 to 2000. Littlepage & Booth partner Zoe Littlepage says she is disappointed with the defense verdict, but is encouraged it took the jury four days to agree on a verdict. “We obviously had some of the jurors with us,” Littlepage says. According to the verdict form, the jury found Reeves failed to prove Wyeth inadequately warned about the known risks of taking Premarin or Prempro and such failure to warn caused her breast cancer. The jury also found Reeves failed to prove that Premarin and/or Prempro were defective in design and that defect proximately caused her breast cancer, and also failed to prove Wyeth was negligent and that negligence proximately caused her breast cancer. In Linda Reeves v. Wyeth, et al., Reeves, who lives in Arkansas, brought several causes of actions against defendants Wyeth, of Madison, N.J., and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Collegeville, Pa., including negligence, design defect, failure to warn, breach of implied warranty and gross negligence/malice. The trial was before U.S. District Judge William Wilson of Little Rock. Littlepage says he is the judge presiding over In Re: Prempro Products Liability Litigation, the multidistrict litigation. Defense attorney Lyn Pruitt, a partner in Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard in Little Rock, was traveling on Sept. 18 and did not immediately return a telephone message. But in a press release issued by Wyeth, Pruitt says, “We believe the jury’s decision was consistent with the evidence presented and the body of scientific knowledge around hormone therapy.” Littlepage says the first Texas trial is not expected to take place until 2007. In 2002, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute stopped a study on hormone replacement therapy conducted through the Women’s Health Initiative after researchers concluded the drugs could increase the risks of breast cancer, strokes and heart disease. Wyeth markets Premarin and Prempro.

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