There’s a pretty good essay in this weekend’s New York Times (online here Saturday, in print Sunday in the Business section) about how hard Big Pharma has worked to market menopause as an estrogen deficiency disease. In addition to discussion of Wyeth’s advertising campaigns, the article mentions the firm’s contract with DesignWrite, a company drug makers pay to develop manuscripts for publication in medical journals, to prepare at least 60 articles for publication in medical journals on the potential benefits of hormone therapy for cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, colon cancer, vision loss and other health problems.
The article also includes access to PDFs of some of the thousands of pages of documents from Wyeth that were requested by plaintiffs in the lawsuits against the drug manufacturer. (To date, more than 13,000 people have sued Wyeth claiming that they developed breast cancer and other health problems after taking the company’s menopausal hormone drugs. As we reported three weeks ago, in ten of the twelve verdicts so far, juries have awarded significant sums to plaintiffs. ) The documents available at the New York Times include a publication plan for Wyeth from DesignWrite, a 1995 product launch speech from Wyeth’s marketing director proclaiming the company’s mission of bringing to fruition Dr. Bernadine Healy’s vision of “a world in which the vast majority of women would begin taking HRT, and we know that means Prempro, at menopause and continue on for the rest of their lives.” There’s also this handwritten note from a 1996 meeting about how to respond to a new study raising breast cancer concerns (red markings added by me):