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Wyeth found to have hidden Prempro dangersTerry Allen at In These Times recently offered a scathing critique of Wyeth’s attempt to distort study results and hide deadly side effects from its hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs such as Prempro.

After the FDA approves a new drug, it rarely faces follow-up studies that might reveal serious and possibly fatal side effects. Some dangers remain hidden for years until an accumulation of disasters sparks lawsuits. Faced with litigation, corporations must cough up data — and sometimes choke on it.

I encourage anyone who has taken HRT medications (such as Prempro or Premarin) to read Allen’s post.

Allen discusses the approximately 1,500 documents that yielded "unprecedented insights into how pharmaceutical companies promote drugs." Wyeth knew by 1975 that its HRT drugs were linked to an 8-fold increase in endometrial cancer. To counter the side effect, Wyeth added progesterone and created Prempro. Prempro suffered from similar problems, increasing the risk of breast cancer, stroke, dementia and incontinence.

According to Allen’s report:

"Wyeth used ghostwritten articles to mitigate the perceived risks of breast cancer associated with [HRT], to defend the unsupported cardiovascular ‘benefits’ of [HRT], and to promote off-label, unproven uses of [HRT] such as the prevention of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, vision problems, and wrinkles."

Thousands of women across the country have been victimized by Wyeth and other manufacturers of hormone replacement drugs. There have been several verdicts against Wyeth in which juries have held the drug maker accountable for its actions.

Just recently, a Puerto Rico jury awarded $1.5 million to a woman who developed breast cancer after taking the HRT drug Prempro to combat the effects of menopause. The case is Rivera-Adams v. Wyeth, 03-1713 (JAF), U.S. District Court, District of Puerto Rico (San Juan).

According to a Bloomberg News report on the conflict, jurors in federal court in San Juan deliberated approximately 7 hours over two days last month “before finding that Pfizer’s Wyeth subsidiary failed to properly warn Helen Rivera-Adams and her doctors about the health risks of its Prempro menopause medicine.”

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)

Pfizer’s 2009 acquisition of Wyeth was valued at $68 billion. While Pfizer remains the world’s largest drug maker, its Wyeth and Upjohn units have now lost eight Prempro cases decided by juries since trials began in 2006.

Jurors decided in this case that the drug helped cause the plaintiff’s cancer and that the company failed to provide adequate warnings about the drug’s cancer risks to her or her doctors.

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


  1. Gravatar for Mary

    That's a shame this HRT drug "Prempro" continues in the market after the results of the study done in 2002 whichs proved this HRT drug increases the risk of breast cancer and the risk of death for this reason. I don't understand how it comes the FDA continues approving this dangerous drug, there are thousands of women which had breast cancer after taking this HRT drug, some of those women was mutilated, some of them died and for all of them their lives were destroyed

  2. Gravatar for Linda Norton

    Is the FDA just plain stupid or are they turning a blind eye on purpose. Leaving prempro on the market (lower dose just means it will take a woman longer to get breast cancer)is making women act guinea pigs. Maybe if women knew that pregnant horses urine was what prempro contained, they wouldn't take this. I took it for 9-10 years never being told how harmful this is and was one of the unlucky ones that developed breast cancer. After a mastectomy, it showed that the tissue contained estrogen and progesterine, the makeup of prempro, this is not some crank or outrageous statement. I am 2nd youngest or 9 siblings and no one in my immediate nor extended family has cancer of any kind - just me - but I am the only one who took prempro. I am now 69 years old and feel lucky to have beat this but I went through hell for 6 years. Pfizer refuses to settle for a fair amount, after all this would look lie Wyeth was at fault and they were. Some ridiculous juries can't understand that some pills on the market are harmful but they are. Naturally the drug companies are out for a buck but they don't want to take reponsibility for what they have done. Shame on them. I wonder what is in YAZ, maybe the ED medicines will cause side effects to men and then they will do something. This has been going on for 9 years and they won't settle with all of us for an amount equalling the severity of what they have done. They have taken the route of the almighty dollar instead of stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing. Even if you read the small print on drugs, you can't tell what's in them, they put ingredients with names on them that no one would recognize. Nice work, Pfizer. Are you waiting for all of us to die so our estate will take a pittance and get it over with?

  3. Gravatar for Pamela Egan

    The synthetic and animal-based hormones are far more dangerous than natural, "bioidentical" hormones.

    There has been a lot of deception and misinformation on the subject of bioidentical vs. synthetic hormones for years now.

    While the FDA may well have good reason to further regulate the distribution of synthetic and animal-based hormones, it should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Hopefully, the FDA will consider the loads of research confirming the relative safety associated with responsible bioidentical hormone replacement therapy as compared with synthetic and equine-based hormone varieties.

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