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Court awards over $13M in drug lawsuit launched by Sechelt woman


The class action lawsuit launched by a Sechelt woman against Wyeth Canada Inc. for selling hormone replacement therapy drugs linked to breast cancer is now settled and a $13.65 million payment has been awarded by the B.C. Supreme Court.

A large portion of that settlement, about 43 per cent, will go to legal counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action suit. The approximately 1,100 plaintiffs themselves will split what’s remaining based on medical costs incurred to date and the ability to prove they took the hormone replacement drug Premarin or Premplus between 1977 and 2003.

Sechelt resident Dianna Stanway, who launched the class action suit, said this week that while the payout may be minimal in the end for the many women involved, she was “satisfied with whatever they can get us.”

“As long as everybody knows it can cause cancer. That was the main object of the court case, because people didn’t know it did at the time but now they do,” Stanway said.

“I’m quite pleased with the outcome of it all.”

Stanway started the class action suit in 2004 after taking the drug Premarin and subsequently being diagnosed with ductal and lobular breast cancer.

Stanway became the lead plaintiff in the class action lawsuit because she had all the receipts and printouts from 2003 to prove she took the drug before her cancer diagnosis.

“I’m one of these people that keep everything and I had every receipt and every printout from the drugstore,” Stanway said.

Plaintiffs in the case will now have to each prove they took the drug between 1977 and 2003 and that they developed breast cancer after taking the drug before they can receive any payout from Pfizer, which now owns Wyeth Canada.

Stanway said the best way to prove eligibility is to “go back to your doctor or go back to your drugstore to get proof. That’s the only way I know to do it, unless you have your own receipts.”

In addition to the approximately 1,100 women already involved in the case, Stanway’s lawyer Douglas Lennox said more women in B.C. will have the chance to sign on within the coming year.

“The deadline for people outside of the province expired last year but it still remains open for people within the province. There will be an ad in various B.C. newspapers beginning Monday, June 29 announcing the settlement and the final claims deadline for people,” Lennox said.

Residents of B.C. will have one year from the date of the announcement to sign onto the class action suit.

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