On Friday, a federal jury in Utah ordered Wyeth and Pharmacia & Upjohn Co to pay a hormone replacement therapy plaintiff $5.1 million after finding that her breast cancer was caused by Premarin, Provera, and Prempro and that the defendants failed to adequately warn about the risk of breast cancer and these drugs. Interestingly, the jury did not find the defendants liable on the strict liability failure to warn, and the negligent design defect claims.
The problem with these cases for the defendants is that they ask the jury to check their common sense at the door. Defense experts testified that the plaintiff’s breast cancer was the most common type occurring in women, regardless of their hormone therapy drug use. She also had other risk factors for breast cancer, including dense breast tissue.
In closing arguments, one of the defense lawyers said: “We don’t know what caused her first breast cancer mutation. But we know that without that mutation she would never have developed breast cancer.” In other words, set aside the studies that show these drugs cause breast cancer because she probably would have gotten it anyway because she had, you know, dense breast tissue. Please.