Hot flashes, night sweats, abnormal periods, and breast cancer: everything a woman can look forward to during menopause. That is, if the woman was prescribed Prempro, a drug designed to relieve menopause symptoms. Ten thousand women have sued Pfizer for overemphasizing the benefits of Prempro and failing to advise customers of the risks. Pfizer has already settled with 6,000 women for $896 million since 2006 and has put aside $330 million for the remaining 4,000 women who have filed suit.
Six million women were prescribed Prempro, establishing it as the most used drug in the U.S. At its height in 2001, sales of the drug reached $2 billion. A 2002 federal study concluded ed that there was an increase in breast cancer, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots in patients that used Prempro to alleviate their menopause symptoms. Pfizer has accepted all responsibility after buying out the original manufacturer, Wyeth, and they stand confidently behind the drug in court. This settlement is a small victory for the women who took the drug and have since developed breast cancer or run a higher risk for strokes and blood clots.
As a woman, I am 100% behind the Prempro lawsuits and give thanks to those brave enough to fight for future menopausal drug consumers. I cannot help but wonder, though, with all of the health risks and side effects of menopause drugs, if it is safer to just suck it up. When my hot flashes and night sweats kick in, I’ll be sure to keep in mind that, unpleasant as menopause is, it’s still a lot better than cancer.