Wyeth Pharmaceutical Company has manufactured hormone replacement drugs and promoted therapy since the 1960s. The company has been very aggressive with the marketing of these medications. Wyeth has argued in trials to the jury that a scientist or physician should get a Nobel Prize for being able to figure out that hormones could cause cancer. One of our law partners, Russ Abney, recently discovered a Nobel lecture on December 13, 1966 given by Charles Huggins entitled Endocrine – Induced Regression of Cancers.
Little did Wyeth know that the statement by its lawyers to some of the juries would actually turn out to be true. Dr. Huggins received his Nobel Prize for discovering that a subset of certain types of cancer was promoted by hormones. These specified cancers were hormone positive prostate, breast and uterine cancer.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers have a duty and responsibility to doctors and patients to stay current on all science related to the drugs the companies are selling to the public. The entire hormone replacement fiasco may have been prevented if Wyeth had done a thorough investigation of the science involving hormone replacement in the 1960s. In fact, it could have taken advantage of Dr. Charles Huggins’s Nobel Prize winning research. The Wyeth lawyers can now tell juries that someone did in fact win the Nobel Prize long ago for figuring out that hormones can cause cancer. But, do you really believe they will ever tell that bit of news to any jury?
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