Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Kicking the Wyeth Habit Saves Women’s Lives

An editorial cartoon from the summer of 2002 shows a TV announcer leading a newscast with: “A major US drug maker is warning women if they stop hormone therapy abruptly, its stock price will fall.”

Wyeth, maker of Prempro and Premarin, has indeed seen its stock price fall since the news from a study presented at a breast cancer conference in San Antonio in December broke that breast cancer fell 7% from 2002 to 2003 and estrogen positive breast cancer, 15%, presumably because women went off HRT.

And just as the initial Women’s Health Initiative HRT findings drew a chorus of “yes buts” from those financially linked to HRT–the women in the study were “too old”, took HRT too long, should have taken only one hormone, shouldn’t have had heart disease–already spins and denials are coming out.

Maybe the number of breast cancers hasn’t dropped at all, opined experts quoted by ABC News Medical Unit, but mammograms have dropped. (Or the population dropped 15%–did they think of that?)

Withdrawing hormones couldn’t produce a decrease in breast cancer that quickly, say other sources though estrogen-fueled cancers can indeed regress, not form at all or not become mammogram detectable in three years, says New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata.

Others are ranting that news like this could scare women away from legitimate HRT uses. Many have just returned from the FDA hearings on antidepressant warnings where they said the same thing.

Unfortunately, HRT loyalists have more than the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center study which broke the news to refute. A November study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found an even larger drop in breast cancer rates in California where there was also a larger drop in HRT use.

And epidemiologists at the Northern California Cancer Center found breast cancer down 11% in 2004 using data from a National Cancer Institute program and from Kaiser Permanente.

Despite the fact that HRT was found in 2002 to cause a 26% increased risk of breast cancer, 29% increased risk of heart attack, 41% increased risk of stroke, and 100% increased risk of blood clots, Wyeth continues to market Prempro and Premarin. Especially because it faces 3600 legal cases and withdrawing or discontinuing the drugs would be an admission of guilt.

Not that they don’t already look complicit.

Testimony in an Arkansas breast cancer trial this year revealed that a Wyeth salesman wrote company executives in 2000, “The desire for increased sales has overruled our company’s ethical responsibility to promote our products safely.” He also testified that Wyeth Chairman and CEO Robert Essner told his reps at a Prempro launch party the company was creating an “HRT revolution” that would keep women on the drug from menopause to death and that there should be “no boundaries, no limits to your selling effort.”

But the latest news makes it even tougher for Wyeth to plead ignorance. With 14,000 women who were expected to get breast cancer NOT GETTING IT as analysts now claim, quitting HRT practically looks like the cure.

And what possible warning label could you put on a drug that is apparently so deadly and works so fast, anyway? That if you go off it, the manufacturer’s stock price will fall?

MARTHA ROSENBERG is a Staff Cartoonist at the Evanston Roundtable. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Providence Journal. Arizona Republic, New Orleans Times-Picayune and other newspapers.  She can be reached at: mrosenberg@evmark.org

 

 

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail