"Wyeth must fight a two-front battle," says Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, assistant professor of law at the Florida State University College of Law. "On the one hand, it will worry about a never-ending litigation stream and have difficulty quantifying the risks. On the other hand, it will try to protect the Premarin and Prempro names."
In the case of Lilly's schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, which also remains on the market, the drug's maker settled with most of the 31,300 claimants, paying $1.2 billion, and says it will fight claims by other plaintiffs, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Hormone-therapy plaintiffs could have a tougher time winning based on alleged side effects. Zyprexa plaintiffs claimed the drug caused or contributed to higher blood sugar or diabetes. Diet-drug plaintiffs alleged rare side effects such as heart-valve damage or dangerously high blood pressure in arteries of the lungs.
In the hormone-therapy cases, claims involve illnesses that Wyeth's attorneys can try to attribute to many causes. "A longer latency period