PHOENIX (CN) – Wyeth barraged women and doctors with articles, videos and medical reports to persuade “doctors and patients that menopause was not the natural process of aging … [and] turned this process into a disease in need of drug treatment,” and a woman says she developed breast cancer after taking its “hormone therapy” drugs.
Sharron Jacquemart sued Wyeth, Pfizer, Pharmacia & Upjohn, and Barr Pharmaceuticals in Federal Court.
Since 2005, more than 600 claims have been filed nationwide in which women trace their breast cancer to hormone therapy drugs such as Provera, Premarin, and generic medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA). Wyeth has promoted its menopausal hormone therapy products since 1942, using multiple marketing schemes that emphasize the long-term use of the medications, according to Jacquemart’s complaint.
The company’s 1973 marketing statement for Premarin, a form of “hormone replacement therapy,” was, “Atart her on, keep her on,” and in 1991 Wyeth claimed that “protection continued only as long as estrogen therapy continued,” according to the complaint.
In 1999, Wyeth began distributing a brochure to women that claimed, “Menopause isn’t gone in a flash – its debilitating consequences can affect the rest of your life.”
Jacquemart claims that Wyeth sponsored “medical journal articles about the benefits of its products” and “continuing medical education programs discussing the benefits of its products.”
Through these methods Wyeth falsely represented “the negative health effects of menopause ranging from symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and mood changes to an increased risk of life changing and life threatening conditions like cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis and dementia,” the complaint states.
A 15-year study by the Women’s Health Initiative found that in “post-menopausal women with a uterus who are taking estrogen plus progestin, eight more will have invasive breast cancer, seven more will have a heart attack, eight more will have a stroke, and 18 more will have blood clots, including eight with blood clots in the lungs, than will a similar group of 10,000 women not taking these hormones.”
That study was based upon more than 161,000 post-menopausal women between 1993 and 1998.
Jacquemart says she developed breast cancer after taking Prempro, Premarin, Provera and Cycrin. She underwent a lumpectomy, radiation and other breast cancer removal surgeries and is now on the long-term anti-estrogen regimen of Tamoxifen.
She seeks $20 million in damages for negligence, product liability and fraud.
She is represented by Hart L. Robinovitch with Zimmerman Reed in Scottsdale.
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