Menopause as Brought to You by Big Pharm
This is an extremely interesting and provocative article from the New York Times about the enormous influence of pharma on medicine. We have all seen the ads trumpeting the benefits of new (and expensive) medications and telling us to "Talk to your Doctor about whether X is right for you." Sometimes it is not even clear what X is supposed to treat, but apparently we are all supposed to want it.
Note: There has not been evidence that any menopause drugs cause breast cancer. There is concern that, if a few early breast cancer cells are developing, the drugs may "fertilize" them. That is different, however, from causing the disease.
Here is a quote from the Times article and then the link if you want to read more:
MILLIONS of American women in the 1990s were told they could help their bodies ward off major illness by taking menopausal hormone drugs. Some medical associations said so. Many gynecologists and physicians said so. Respected medical journals said so, too.
Along the way, television commercials positioned hormone drugs as treatments for more than hot flashes and night sweats — just two of the better-known symptoms of menopause, which is technically defined as commencing one year after a woman's last menstrual cycle.
One commercial about estrogen loss by the drug maker Wyeth featured a character named Dr. Heartman in a white coat discussing research into connections between menopause and heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and blindness. "When considering menopause, consider the entire body of evidence," Dr. Heartman said. "Speak to your doctor about what you can do to help protect your health during and after menopause."
Connie Barton, then a medical office assistant in Peoria, Ill., was one woman who responded to such messages. She says she took Prempro, a hormone drug made by Wyeth, from 1997, when she was 53, until 2002, when she received a diagnosis of breast cancer. As part of her cancer treatment, she had a mastectomy to remove her left breast.
Now Ms. Barton, who said in an interview that she used Prempro in part because her doctor told her it could help prevent heart disease and dementia, is one of more than 13,000 people who have sued Wyeth over the last seven years, claiming in courts across the country that its menopause drugs caused breast cancer and other problems.