Hot Flush for Big Pharma

The sale of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to women is a multi-billion dollar cash cow for the pharmaceutical industry. What will its PR machine do in the face of evidence that long-term HRT use increases women's risk of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, breast cancer, and dementia, and has no quality of life benefits? Jocalyn Clark recounts the history of the industry's campaign to "medicalize menopause," beginning in the 1960s when Wyeth, which accounts for more than 70% of the global HRT market, subsidized the publication of a book titled Forever Feminine, which touted hormone replacements as a virtual fountain of youth for the "dull and unattractive" aging woman. More recently, PR firms such as RED Consultancy, the Social Issues Research Centre, and Haas & Health Partner have orchestrated testimonials from celebrities and industry-funded nonprofit organizations to downplay evidence of HRT's health risks and convince women that it will give them better careers, relationships, health and sex lives.