(CN) – Two New Jersey women who contracted breast cancer after undergoing hormone replacement therapy cannot sue a pair of pharmaceutical companies for product liability, an appeals court ruled.
Loretta DeBoard and Dora Bailey sued Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Pharmacia & Upjohn, claiming that their cancer was caused by the use of the defendants’ Premarin, Prempro and Provera.
The plaintiffs both started taking Premarin in 1991. Wyeth makes the estrogen therapy from the urine of pregnant mares.
That year, the plaintiffs also began taking Provera, a progestin therapy manufactured by Upjohn.
In 1996, both women’s doctors switched them to Prempro. Wyeth produces that therapy, which contains both estrogen and progestin.
All three of the drugs have Food & Drug Administration approval, but several medical studies have found links between different therapies and breast cancer.
DeBoard was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, and Bailey received a similar diagnosis the following year.
After combining their cases, the trial court ultimately ruled in favor of the drugmakers.
DeBoard and Bailey appealed, claiming that Judge Jamie Happas should have ruled the drug-label warnings to be adequate because the combination of estrogen and progesterone amounted to an off-label use of the drugs.
But the New Jersey Appellate Division disagreed last week.
“We affirm substantially on the basis of the well-considered and exhaustive opinion of Judge Happas in the Bailey matter, which we have determined to be well supported and legally unassailable,” Judge Edith Payne wrote for the court.