Lawsuit over hormone treatment drugs dismissed

Clark County District Judge James Bixler on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit the attorney general's office filed against major drug companies over allegations that hormone treatments damaged the health of Nevada women.

The case never reached substantive issues because Bixler agreed with defendants Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer Inc. and Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. that Nevada's four-year statute of limitations had expired by the time the lawsuit was filed in November 2008.

The judge ruled that the state waited too long to file the lawsuit. Key to the decision was the determination of when the plaintiff first should have known about problems with the hormone treatment drugs and thus when the statute of limitations started ticking.

Nevada is the only state to have filed a lawsuit over the marketing of hormone therapy drugs.

The drug companies were accused of selling hormone replacement therapy drugs, including Premarin, Cycrin and Prempro, to women coping with menopause symptoms, such as mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Peter Wetherall in cooperation with the Attorney General's office, claimed that the hormone treatments posed "substantial health risk with little or no corresponding benefit." It mentioned risks including breast and ovarian cancer, heart attacks, strokes and auto-immune diseases.

The state claimed the drug companies violated the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act and sought damages and restitution.

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at or 702-383-0420.