MENSTRUATION MATTERS

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.”

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