Reno Jury Cuts $100 Million Out Of Drug Award

A jury on Friday slashed $100 million from a compensatory judgment against pharmaceutical giant Wyeth after it conceded a previous award improperly included a levy to punish the company for its hormone replacement drugs.

Washoe District Judge Robert Perry instructed the five-man, two-woman jury to reconsider a $134.5 million award issued Wednesday after questions were raised about whether the judgment included punitive damages designed to punish the pharmaceutical maker.

Perry said the matter was brought to his attention by a bailiff, who overheard discussion in the jury room.

After deliberating again for about three hours, jurors awarded a combined $35 million to the women for past and future medical expenses, as well as physical and emotional pain and suffering.

Jurors will return Monday to consider awarding punitive damages.

The judgment remains the largest award to date against the Madison, N.J.-based company, which faces about 5,300 similar lawsuits across the country in state and federal courts.

All involve the drugs Premarin, an estrogen replacement, and Prempro, a combination of estrogen and progestin.

The drugs are prescribed to women to ease symptoms of menopause.

The panel deliberated for two days earlier this week before announcing its verdict late Wednesday in favor of Jeraldine Scofield, 74, of Fallon; Arlene Rowatt, 67, of Incline Village; and Pamela Forrester, 65, of Yerington.

During the trial, Wyeth lawyers argued that the drugs were safe and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

They also said information about possible risks is included with every
prescription and provided to the women's doctors.

They also argued that the women had other risk factors, making it impossible to link their cancer with the hormone replacement drugs.