Appeal rejected in hormone case

Posted on Jun 23, 2010 in Health & Wellness

Woman got breast cancer after taking replacement therapy

updated 10:14 a.m. ET June 21, 2010

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court is allowing a new trial in the case of a woman who got breast cancer after taking hormone replacement therapy and is seeking punitive damages against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

The justices on Monday rejected Wyeth’s attempt to block the trial because it is to be limited to punitive damages. Wyeth also wanted the high court to throw out $2.75 million compensatory damages that the woman, Donna Scroggin of Little Rock, Ark., won after suing Wyeth and Upjohn Co., another drugmaker. Both companies now are owned by Pfizer Inc.

A jury also awarded Scroggin $27 million in punitive damages after concluding that Wyeth inadequately warned her that its drugs Premarin and Prempro carried an increased risk of breast cancer.

A federal judge struck down the punitive damages award, saying certain testimony from former Food and Drug Administration official Dr. Suzanne Parisian, who was the plaintiff’s regulatory expert, shouldn’t have been allowed at trial.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ordered the partial retrial, limited to punitive damages.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who owns Pfizer stock, did not take part in the consideration of the case.

The case is Wyeth v. Scroggin, 09-1123.