Despite large pay outs to victims, Pfizer keeps selling the hormone replacement drug and the government keeps trying to make sure there’s no competition from the natural alternative!
This past week, a court told Pfizer Inc., the multinational pharmaceutical company, to pay $72.6 million in damages to three women. Each had developed breast cancer after taking the company’s hormone replacement drug, Prempro (made from pregnant mares’ urine), for treatment of their menopause symptoms. So why is this drug still being sold?
In 2002, the National Institutes of Health sponsored a Women’s Health Initiative study that showed Prempro is linked to cancer. The research demonstrated that Prempro, which is already known to increase the risk of breast cancer, also makes it more likely that the cancer will advance quickly and prove fatal.
Despite these findings, Pfizer continues to sell the drug—and the FDA has not taken any action to remove drug from the market. In fact, the FDA merely says that “women taking Prempro or other combination estrogen/progestin therapy should consult with their physicians about the relevance of this new information to their treatment,” and that “the FDA is not thinking of taking estrogens or estrogen with progestin drug products off the market at this time.”
Pfizer has now lost ten of the eighteen Prempro cases decided by juries since trials began in 2006. The drug-maker got some of those verdicts thrown out after the trial or had the awards reduced, offered settlements on others, and appealed the rest. Pfizer has also had cases thrown out before trial. The drug giant announced in May that it had settled a third of the pending Prempro cases and had set aside $772 million to help resolve the claims.
As we reported last week, drug companies can take these settlements in their stride because they know the government will never prosecute them. Besides, Pfizer had already made $2 billion before the 2002 study was released, so the money they pay in settlements is simply chalked up to the cost of doing business.
The collusion between Big Pharma and the government has ensured that the safer alternative—compounded bioidentical estriol—is still banned by the FDA. Not a single adverse event has ever been reported for bioidentical estriol.
You may recall from our earlier reporting on estriol that FDA essentially created new policy when the agency issued warning letters to compounding pharmacists prohibiting them from compounding estriol. Why would the FDA do such a thing? Because our government follows the dictates of the drug industry. In this case, it was in response to the Citizen Petition which Wyeth (now part of Pfizer) sent to FDA, asking them to pursue enforcement. Wyeth/Pfizer didn’t want competition for Prempro, and the FDA obeyed. The deadly, cancer-causing drug is still freely sold and marketed. Can you imagine the outcry if a supplement caused cancer but was still available for sale?
Due to an outpouring of protest from grassroots activists like you, behind-the-scenes lobbying by ANH-USA and other concerned organizations, and conflicting federal court decisions, at the moment there is a something of a stand-off on the issue—no new crackdowns have taken place. But FDA still has not revoked their ban on this natural, safe, inexpensive, and effective alternative to Prempro.