A US jury has awarded £49m in punitive damages to three Nevada women who claimed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs distributed by pharmaceutical giant Wyeth caused their breast cancer.
The Washoe County District Court jury had initially issued a £66m judgement against Wyeth last week, but a judge reduced that to £17m after it became clear some of the jurors believed that award was to include punitive damages.
The judgement is the largest award to date against the New Jersey-based company, which faces about 5,300 similar lawsuits across the country in state and federal courts.
All involve the drugs Premarin®, an oestrogen replacement, and Prempro®, a combination of oestrogen and progestin. The drugs are prescribed to women to ease menopause symptoms.
During the trial, Wyeth lawyers had argued that the women had other risk factors, making it impossible to link their cancer to the HRT drugs.
Heidi Hubbard, a partner in the law firm representing Wyeth, said: “This verdict is an extreme aberration.
“It is inconsistent with every other hormone therapy case to be tried to date and it is inconsistent with the evidence.”
The firm said it will appeal against the decision.
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