U.S. SC puts hormone therapy suits in state court

Legal Newsline

BY JESSICA M. KARMASEK
October 12, 2010

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by several drug makers, including Pfizer Inc., to have three lawsuits alleging a link between hormone-therapy medications and breast cancer moved to federal court.

The lawsuits, which were filed in 2008, can now proceed in Minnesota state court, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The plaintiffs — more than 100 women — alleged the drug companies purposely hid a link between the drugs, which are used to treat symptoms of menopause, and an increased risk of breast cancer.

Hormone replacement therapy involves taking either estrogen alone or estrogen in combination with progesterone or progestin, which is a synthetic hormone with effects similar to those of progesterone.

According to the National Cancer Institute’s website, doctors may recommend menopausal hormones to counter some of the problems often associated with the onset of menopause — including hot flashes, night sweats, sleeplessness — or to prevent some long-term conditions that are more common in postmenopausal women, such as osteoporosis.

The drug companies who appealed to the U.S. Court included Pfizer’s Wyeth and Pharmacia & Upjohn units, and subsidiaries of Novartis AG, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Abbott Laboratories.

The drug makers wanted to have the cases moved and consolidated with other similar suits.

According to the Journal, drug makers prefer to have product-liability cases in federal court, believing the system provides “better legal safeguards for corporate defendants.”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.