Pfizer Rejected by U.S. Supreme Court on Menopause Drug Suit

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Pfizer Inc. and other makers of hormone replacement treatments, leaving intact a ruling that lets 123 women who developed breast cancer sue in Minnesota state court.

The appeal sought to reinstate a federal trial court ruling that dismissed 116 of the plaintiffs because their claims duplicated previously filed suits.

The issue in the Supreme Court appeal turned on the complex rules governing efforts by corporate defendants to move suits out of plaintiff-friendly state courts and into federal tribunals.

In the Pfizer case, a federal appeals court said the trial judge shouldn’t have dismissed the 116 plaintiffs and instead should have immediately sent the entire matter back to Minnesota state court, where the suits were filed.

More than 6 million women took menopause drugs made by Pfizer’s Wyeth unit to treat symptoms including hot flashes and mood swings before a 2002 study highlighted their links to cancer.

The other companies being sued include units of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., Novartis AG, Abbott Laboratories and Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The case is Wyeth v. Kirkland, 10-222.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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