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A lawsuit in the U.S. District Court – Southern District of New York found that executives at drug-giant, Wyeth, were less than forthright about the antidepressant Pristiq. The Court ruled that front-loading investor relations communications with fine-print about “forward-looking statements” that should be treated with caution did not provide adequate coverage if the manufacturer has additional data about the product that is potentially nefarious.

Wyeth repeatedly claimed that Pristiq was a good treatment for post-menopause hot-flashes, but what they also knew was that clinical data showed a risk of heart and liver problems. As CBS News reported, the Wyeth executives could not hide behind silence about the antidepressant data and the Court’s order was reaffirmed a few weeks ago.

The company’s handling of HRT drugs shows a similar pattern. A study this fall in the Journal of the American Medical Association further confirmed the link between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs and breast cancer. According to the study, post-menopausal women who took HRT drugs — estrogen plus progestin — were more likely to develop aggressive and deadly forms of breast cancer. Such women were more likely to die from breast cancer than women who had not been prescribed HRT drugs, like Prempro and Premarin (also manufactured by Wyeth).

[More about the dangers of Prempro, Premarin and other hormone replacement (HRT) drugs]

Just weeks ago the Nevada Supreme Court upheld a $58 million verdict against Wyeth. The unanimous ruling affirmed the award to three women who proved their breast cancer was caused by hormone replacement drugs made by Wyeth. According to an AP report, "Wyeth knew in the mid-1970s that body organs such as breast tissue responded negatively to hormones, yet it failed to conduct or participate in any meaningful study of the estrogen-progestin drug combination until it gave its drug to the Women’s Health Initiative in 1992, the ruling said. That study was halted 10 years later when a significant number of women developed cancer."

Millions of women have been prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs to treat symptoms related to menopause. HRT drugs include:

  • Oral Estrogens (including Premarin and Cenestin)
  • Topical Estrogens (including Alora, Climara, and Vivelle)
  • Progestins (including Prempro)

HRT medications have been prescribed to relieve menopausal symptoms and to prevent things like heart disease and dementia. However, reports – like one from the Toronto Sun – have shown that HRT drugs instead increase the risk of diseases they were marketed to prevent and greatly increase the risk of breast cancer.

  • 41% increase in Stroke
  • 29% increase in Heart Attack
  • 26% increase in Breast Cancer
  • 22% increase in Cardiovascular Disease

HRT drug makers, like Wyeth (which makes Prempro), hired ghostwriters to submit articles in peer-reviewed journals to make its Prempro HRT drug appear safer that it actually was. The ghostwriters commissioned by the drug maker were paid to downplay HRT risks and promote the company’s drugs.

Make sure you have all of the information about the risks of HRT medications if you are considering – or are already taking – these medications.

[More on HRT Dangers]

(c) Copyright 2010 Brett A. Emison

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