Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Because women aren’t medicated enough?

September 19th, 2010 by Elizabeth Kissling

ProzacSome of you may recall that in my book, Capitalizing on the Curse, I argued that the addition of PMDD to the DSM-IV and the re-branding of fluoxetine HCI as Sarafem are linked. It was no coincidence that pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly sought a unique FDA approval for Sarafem as treatment for PMDD just as the patent on Prozac, also composed of fluoxetine HCI, was about to expire. Eli Lilly initially secured the patent for Sarafem until 2007, and it is no longer the only FDA-approved treatment for PMDD.

Lilly must be in need of a new way to keep milking the cash cow. How fortunate that new research suggests that Prozac can relieve garden-variety PMS as well. A neuroscientist at the University of Birmingham presented research last week at the British Science Festival that asserts a 2mg daily dose of fluoxetine in the week before menstruation could alleviate PMS. She tested it for three years on rats. Of course, rats don’t actually experience PMS, so they were “induced to have PMS-like symptoms”.

Every time I read another article about new treatments for PMS, I remember Joan Chrisler’s comments about over-diagnosis of PMS and PMDD (which are both associated with high levels of relationship and family stress): “We’re conditioned to want a pill. Instead of something you might need more, like a nap or a divorce, or the ERA.”

4 responses to “Because women aren’t medicated enough?”

  1. Laura Wershler says:

    Joan’s quote says it all. I was wondering what the equivalent of this drug-based approach to women’s “health” issues would be for men. While watching a football game last night, I got thinking about all the silly penalities these male players tend to take – lack of impulse control is what it is. Surely they can come up with a pill to keep men from excercising this annoying habit that clearly is impairing their ability, in the case of the professional football player, to perform their jobs effectively. Or would that be considred a performance enhancing drug? Enhancing women’s job and relational performance, sexual availablity, sexual performance, appearance, etc, etc is a billion dollar industry. When will we say “enough is enough”!

  2. Heather D says:

    Aren’t they already prescribing this for menopause? How great to be Big Pharma looking down at all of these bodies/bodily processes and thinking, “Wow, look at all of the money we can make! All of these bodies are so out of control!” Wasn’t prozac prescribed for dogs too? Women, children, dogs…

  3. cynthia says:

    Could you find a way to pick at the pharmaceutical companies without making it sound like PMDD doesn’t exist. Or like women who have it are bumbling emotional idiots who need to suck in up and get some therapy.
    Let me explain. Try crying uncontrollably, having suicidal thoughts and being so depressed that you think you are going crazy every 3 weeks for 5 days like clockwork. Or having no one believe that you think it is connected to your period. Being put on literally 30 different medications and none of them working. The only thing that made it better was yaz. If you haven’t had PMDD you wouldn’t understand, I don’t expect you to. I will, however, ask you to please stop spreading propaganda that calls a neurological disorder weakness. You think you have conquered the mission of embracing your bodies? Try coming to terms with having your pituitary gland make you want to kill yourself or never being able to come off the pill because you don’t want to end up in a bottomless pit of depression.

    I know some of the shit they give to women is fucked and unnecessary. However that isn’t true for all of it and please, don’t blame the people who suffer because of it.

  4. Heather D says:

    Hi, Cynthia, I really appreciate your comments on this and it is a good reminder to all of us who blog about this stuff to make sure we are not doing the very same thing that we’re critiquing pharmaceutical companies for: generalizing about what happens to women and what women need. So, I apologize if I’ve been part of that. What you’ve been through sounds absolutely awful and it also sounds like you need better medical treatment than you’ve gotten so far. I want pharmaceutical companies and doctors to be able to listen to you and hear you talk about the signs and symptoms that are terrible for you and that you think need to be dealt with. My worry, though, is that pharmaceutical companies and doctors haven’t been able to listen in full to you because they don’t understand your conditions and they don’t understand what makes you different from another menstruating or non-menstruating woman. I would venture to guess they really don’t even know how to listen to your description of your own symptoms well enough to even know what you need from them. They don’t know enough about PMDD and how it is either similar or different than experiences of “normal” menstruation (whatever normal is), and therefore they really don’t have the in-depth knowledge to even make a drug that might help you more. We’re lumped together simply because we’re women who menstruate and therefore no one gets the appropriate treatment/care (i.e., some people get too much or the wrong kind of care and some people get too little care or none at all). You’re probably the person who gets hurt the most out of all of us. I really do apologize for the tone of my comments because I know they made you feel worse, but I want pharmaceutical companies and doctors to do better for you and all of us, and I don’t think they’re doing a good enough job yet….

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