Jury In 5th Prempro MDL Bellwether Finds Wyeth Didn't Fail To Warn About Cancer

JONESBORO, Ark. - (Mealey's) The fifth bellwether trial in the Prempro multidistrict litigation ended in a defense verdict on Oct. 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas after a jury found that Wyeth did not inadequately warn about the risk of breast cancer from the hormone replacement drug Prempro (Gloria Jean Curtis, et al. v. Wyeth, et al., No. 3:05-74, E.D. Ark., Jonesboro Div.).

 

The jury answered "no" to the first question posed on the jury verdict form:  "Did Plaintiffs prove by the greater weight of the evidence that Wyeth inadequately warned about a known or knowable risk of Prempro?"  The jury did not have to answer the second question about whether the failure to warn proximately caused plaintiff Gloria Jean Curtis' injuries or the third question about how much money would compensate Curtis and her husband, Ronald. 

In 2002, Gloria Jean Curtis was prescribed Prempro to treat menopausal symptoms.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer later that year. 

In 2003, Curtis and her husband sued Prempro manufacturer Wyeth in the Eastern District of Arkansas where the Prempro MDL is located, alleging strict product liability for failure to warn and breach of implied warranty.  She sought compensatory damages, her husband sought damages for loss of consortium and they both sought punitive damages. 

In his closing instructions to the jury, Judge Billy Roy Wilson told the panel, "If you find from the greater weight of evidence that Ms. Curtis, before her diagnosis of breast cancer, was reasonably aware of the dangers from using Prempro, then you must find for Wyeth.  In order to prove her failure to warn claim against Wyeth, Ms. Curtis must prove:  (1) that Wyeth's warnings for Prempro were inadequate and (2) that had Dr. Bonner not prescribed Prempro she would not have been injured." 

Judge Wilson told the jury that if it found by the greater weight of evidence that Wyeth's warning was inadequate, it was to presume that Gloria Curtis' prescribing doctor would have heeded an adequate warning had it been given, unless Wyeth proved by a greater weight of evidence that the doctor would have prescribed Prempro even if an adequate warning was given. 

The judge also told the jury that it should consider evidence that Wyeth complied with Food and Drug Administration regulations but said "compliance with FDA regulations does not necessarily absolve the manufacturer of liability."  He said compliance "is not a defense if a reasonable and prudent manufacturer would have taken added precautions."

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the Nov. 3 issue of Mealey's Emerging Drugs & Devices.  In the meantime, the verdict form and jury instructions are available at www.mealeysonline.com or by calling the Customer Support Department at 1-800-833-9844.  Verdict form. Document #28-111103-010V.  Jury instructions.  Document #28-111103-011J.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.] 

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