By Jef Feeley – May 12, 2011 9:01 PM MT
Officials of New York-based Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday that the reserve provides “the minimum expected costs to resolve all of the other outstanding” lawsuits over its hormone-replacement drugs. The company didn’t say how many cases would be settled.
“I see this as an effort to clean up a long-standing litigation so they can go forward with their business plan,” Les Funtleyder, a New York-based fund manager at Miller Tabak & Co. in New York who holds Pfizer shares, said yesterday in a phone interview. “This is probably a good thing for the stock.”
More than 6 million women took Prempro and related menopause drugs to treat symptoms including hot flashes and mood swings before a 2002 study highlighted their links to cancer. Wyeth’s sales of the medicines, which are still on the market, exceeded $2 billion before the release of the Women’s Health Initiative, a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
Until 1995, many menopausal women combined Premarin, Wyeth’s estrogen-based drug, with progestin-laden Provera, made by Pfizer’s Upjohn unit, to relieve their symptoms. Wyeth combined the two hormones in its Prempro pill. Pfizer completed its $68 billion purchase of Wyeth in 2009.
At the height of the litigation, Pfizer faced more than 10,000 claims that its menopause drugs caused breast cancer, according to lawyers for former users. Those cases included more than 8,000 cases consolidated in federal court in Arkansas and other cases in state courts in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Minnesota.