Prempro Lawsuit Alleges Hormones Caused Breast Cancer

posted on:
February 27, 2007

author:
Staff

Menopause – Two Portland-area women’s case is combined with others in federal court.

Two women who blame their breast cancer on hormone replacement therapy say they want the federal government to ban synthetic hormone products for women.

The women and their Portland attorney, Michael Williams, say they believe the medication Prempro, prescribed for symptoms of menopause, is responsible for breast cancer in thousands of American women.

Mary Chandler, 68, of Vancouver said Monday she thinks her physicians were misled by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, which markets Prempro, into believing that the medication was safe. Diagnosed in 2001, Chandler underwent a lumpectomy. Still, she said, she lives in fear that the cancer might return. She had taken Prempro for 41/2 years.

“You live with that cancer diagnosis for the rest of your life,” she said.

Joan Lydie, 74, of Northeast Portland said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, underwent a lumpectomy, six months of chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments after taking Premarin and Provera—two components of Prempro—for 15 to 20 years.

Williams has filed suit on behalf of the two women in U.S. District Court in Portland. The litigation was transferred to U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Ark., and combined with some 10,000 other hormone replacement therapy cases filed in federal courts across the U.S.

The attorney cited a study suggesting that a decline in the incidence of breast cancer from 2002 to 2003 might have stemmed from a dramatic drop in the use of hormone replacement therapy during that period. That study, by Dr. Peter Ravdin of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, was presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December.

Responding to the study, Dr. Joseph S. Camardo, Wyeth’s North American medical director, wrote in a memo to physicians in January that the study could not firmly establish a cause for the drop in breast cancer.

For decades physicians recommended that menopausal women take replacement hormones to ward off symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. But in 2002 a study of more than 16,000 U.S. women found that hormones weren’t necessarily a good idea for all women. In some, the drugs could cause problems including heart ailments, breast cancer and strokes.

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