Up until 1995, menopausal women that required hormone replacement therapy combined two drugs – Premarin and Provera – that provided estrogen and progestin. But following 1995, Big Pharma company Wyeth released Prempro, which combined the two hormones into one pill. Pfizer would acquire Wyeth in 2009 following a $68 billion purchase. (Related: NEVER FORGET: In 1994, Pfizer paid $20 million after LYING about defective heart valve that killed hundreds.)
More than six million women took Prempro to treat menopause symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings before 2002, when a landmark study was released highlighting the drug's links to cancer. Wyeth's sales of the medicines before the release of this study exceeded $2 billion.
Pfizer lost 11 of 21 cases in trials decided by juries until it finally agreed to settle. The drug maker got some of the verdicts against it thrown out after trial or had awards reduced. It resolved thousands of other cases through settlements, while other decisions went to appeal.
Despite the settlements and the overwhelming evidence against Prempro, Pfizer still claims that its drug works.
"After nine years of litigation involving this medicine, we are confident in our medicine, our track record of success in court where we have won eight of the last 10 final verdicts at trial, and in our ability to resolve these cases on appropriate terms," said a Pfizer spokesman at the time in a statement emailed to Bloomberg.
Pfizer settled about 6,000 lawsuits for a total sum of over $896 million. The company has also set aside an additional $330 million to resolve another 4,000 suits. Some of these 10,000 cases have been consolidated in a federal court in Arkansas, while the other suits went through state courts in Nevada, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
The reserve means Pfizer committed more than $1.2 billion to resolve claims against Prempro, or an average of $150,000 per case. But information from some of the trials suggests that some plaintiffs were awarded millions or even tens of millions of dollars, including punitive damage for Pfizer's actions in withholding information about Prempro's breast cancer risk.
In one trial resolved earlier that year, a federal jury in Connecticut ordered Pfizer to pay a woman who developed breast cancer from Prempro use $4 million in damages. The panel also ordered Pfizer to pay punitive damages over its handling of the Prempro scandal.
Despite settling the 10,000 cases, dozens of women at the time were still going through the courts and preparing for another round of trials over Prempro.
Esther Berezofsky, a New Jersey-based lawyer who represented women suing Pfizer over its menopause drugs, said her clients believe their claims are worth more than the average $150,000 the Big Pharma company paid in the settlements.
"We'll consider settling when the company decides to fairly compensate the women I represent for the horrendous injuries caused by these drugs," she said.
"The law firms that are left after these settlements are eager to see that every woman gets her day in court," said Zoe Littlepage at the time. Littlepage is a Houston-based lawyer who represented several women who refused to settle their suits against Pfizer. "We have worked long and hard to get these cases to trial."
Learn more about Big Pharma companies like Pfizer at BigPharmaNews.com.
Watch this clip from InfoWars featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitting Israelis were used as guinea pigs for Pfizer.