Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wyeth to release Prempro documents in bid to avoid "public hazard'' hearing

ST. PETERSBURG — Rather than take the chance its blockbuster hormone drug Prempro would be labeled a public hazard, Pfizer's Wyeth unit agreed Friday to release up to 300,000 corporate documents hidden under court seal for the past several years.

The documents are related to Wyeth's development, sales and marketing of hormone medicines that posted $1.2-billion in sales last year. Prempro, a combination of estrogen and progestin, and estrogen-only Premarin are subject to more than 9,000 lawsuits nationwide by women who claim the drugs caused breast cancer, stroke and other illnesses.

Most of those cases are in federal court where discovery documents have been sealed from public view under a protective order. But a single case, that of Loretta Esposito, a 63-year-old Clearwater woman who died of breast cancer, remained in state court in Pinellas County.

Since Florida law forbids protective court orders if they conceal a public hazard, Esposito's lawyers were ready to prove that Prempro fit that definition in a public hearing set for Monday. As the deadline neared, Pfizer, which acquired Wyeth in mid-October, blinked.

On Friday afternoon, the drug maker's lawyers told Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Anthony Rondolino that it would hand over the documents, eliminating the need for the public hazard hearing. The lawyers will still meet before Rondolino Monday morning to hash out the details of the agreement.

Edward Gerecke, the Tampa attorney representing Pfizer, said the company would still insist on confidentiality for documents dealing with two new hormone drugs under development. Rondolino, however, made it clear that he expects few exceptions to the disclosures.

"I will not hesitate to be all over the defendants if it seems like they are playing the game, but really not doing it," Rondolino said.

Christopher Loder, Pfizer's spokesman, said the company withdrew its demands that the papers be kept secret for expediency's sake.

"Given that the documents in dispute were a small subset of Wyeth's overall document production in the hormone therapy litigation, and some of them had already been disclosed, they did not warrant plaintiffs' attempt to have lengthy court proceedings over them," he said. "We continue to maintain that there is no merit to the plaintiff's claims in this case."

While Pfizer was making the concession in the Florida litigation, it lost a federal case in Philadelphia. Friday afternoon, jurors found the company's hormone drugs were substantial contributing factors to an Illinois woman's breast cancer. Two Pfizer units were judged liable for at least $6.3-million in damages.

Since 2006, Pfizer's Wyeth unit has lost six of nine jury verdicts, including the last four in a row.

Regarding the Philadelphia verdict, the company spokesman, said, "We are obviously disappointed with the verdict."

Kris Hundley can be reached at khundley@sptimes.com or (727)892-2996.

Wyeth to release Prempro documents in bid to avoid "public hazard'' hearing 11/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 20, 2009 5:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)

    Golf

    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  3. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, acitvate Alex Cobb

    Blogs

    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  4. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.