As most of us already know, hormone replace therapy was widely prescribed to women across North America to ease symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats. A major study published in 2002 linked the drugs to higher rates of heart attack, stroke and cancer in some cases, however, the drugs remain on the market.
Hundreds of Canadian women who were prescribed Wyeth-made Premarin and Premplus are attempting to initiate a class-action lawsuit against the drug maker. The plaintiffs claim that long-term use led to their development of breast cancer. The allegations have not been proven in a court, but the plaintiffs just jumped over one hurdle when a Vancouver judge refused the drug maker's request to dismiss the case because Wyeth is an American company (it also has an international division). A few more steps must be cleared before the class action filings can take place, but the hope is that any woman in Canada affected by Premarin or Premplus can take part. When/if proceedings actually begin, it will be interesting to see the evidence both sides present.
Wyeth faces thousands of similar lawsuits in the United States and last year was ordered to pay $134.5 million by a jury in Reno, Nevada, to three women who said the drugs caused their breast cancer. According to the Canadian report, there have been 10 trials so far in the United States; eight of them have resulted in verdicts in favour of the plaintiffs.