Protecting the right to use bio-identical hormones in your heart disease prevention program

If you've been following the Track Your Plaque program, you know that we are advocates of "bio-identical hormones", i.e., hormone replacement using forms that are identical to the naturally-occuring human form.

In other words, we find it criminal that pharmaceutical manufacturers continue to promote use of non-identical hormones despite a probable increased side-effect and complication profile (a la Premarin). This unhappy situation persists because bio-identical hormones cannot be patent protected, meaning profits cannot be protected. Synthetic hormones can be patented and profits protected, thus their popularity among drug companies.

If that's not bad enough, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals--maker of synthetic hormone preparations, Premarin and Prempro--has filed an FDA petition to disallow the use of bio-identical hormones as prepared and dispensed by "compounding pharmacies". These are specialty pharmacies that mix and dispense hormones like estrogens (human estradiol, estriol, and estrione) and testosterone. They do so only with a doctor's prescription. Most are members of the Professional Compounding Centers of America (, a professional organization devoted to promoting quality-control over compounding practices.

Compounding pharmacies are occasionally guilty of compounding some suspect preparations. Witness the Fentanyl lollipops of 2002 in which the pain medication, Fentanyl, was put into lollipops for patients with chronic pain. This posed obvious dangers to any children who unsuspectingly ate the lollipops.

But the majority of compounding pharmacies are not guilty of such exotic practices. Most are simply pharmacies who might, for instance, mix a specific dermatologic preparation according to the orders of a dermatologist. Likewise with bio-identical hormones.

We have extensive experience with such a pharmacy in Madison, Wisconsin, the Women's International Pharmacy. They have filled hundreds of hormone prescription for us. They are responsible in their dispensing practices, in our experience. In fact, they have been at least as good, if not better, than other pharmacies we've dealt with.

We believe in protecting our rights to prescribe and you to use the choice of hormone preparations you and your doctor desire. This should include bio-identical hormones. The transparent profit motive from Wyeth should raise the hairs on your neck.

If you would like to post your comment to the FDA, there's a little time left. The folks at Womens' International Pharmacy have made it easy by posting links on their website. Go to and just follow the instructions.

Here's a sample of some of the objections citizens have raised to Wyeth's petition:

I have been taking bioidentical hormones for two years. Bioidentical Hormones have been a great relief to me without the risk. I consult with my Physician who prescribes bio-identical hormones specifically for me, and my pharmacist prepares them. Without this medication and I would not be able to sleep; I would not be able to work due to the constant hot flashes. Without this medication, I find that I have less tolerance and I am considerably disagreeable. I also have problem with my memory without them. I want the bioidentcial hormones for the health benefits they provide. I urge you to not be swayed by Wyeth's petition. The product Premarin made by Wyeth, is made from pregnant horses not natural sources. Wyeth's hormones have been shown to cause cancer. I would not expect my government and its officials to submit to the highly funded petitioning of a pharmaceutical company who product is threatened by bioidentcial hormones. I do not expect my government to approved Wyeth's petition and leave me no choice of bioidentcial hormones and only the choice of Wyeth's cancer causing drugs Preamrin and Prempro. I ask that the FDA reject Wyeth's petition Docket #2005P-0411.

Another petitioner writes:

As a woman I take exception to Wyeth accusing the Compounding Pharmacy industry of unsafe practices. As a citizen of the United States I expect the FDA to stand up for my rights and the rights of all women who have found or in the future may seek consistent, safe and effective treatment with bioidentical hormones. Eliminating options by bowing to a large pharmaceutical company like Wyeth is not in the public interest and would deprive hundreds of thousands of American women from access to bioidentical hormones. Synthetic hormone replacement has been proven unequivocally unsafe in a government sponsored study and should not be forced as the sole treatment option for women. I hereby request the FDA rule against Wyeth's request. The FDA should not close down the bioidentical option of healthcare. I welcome studies of bioidentical hormones even though they are already FDA-approved and have been working effectively for decades. We already have the proof - hundreds of thousands of women, who over the past two decades have chosen bioidentical hormones based on their physicians' assessments. They are living proof that bioidentical hormones are safer and more effective and reliable than synthetic hormone drugs.

A physician and user of bio-identical hormones writes:

Wyeth, the filer of this complaint, is trying to prevent women from being able to choose less expensive compounded options for hormone replacement. There is medical evidence that in modifying the structure of their drugs (such as Premarin and Prempro) so that they could be patented, they may have introduced factors that cause the health risks identified in the Women's Health Initiative. This complaint appears to be filed for commercial purposes because of the market share that has shifted from Wyeth's products to bio-identical products from compounding pharmacies. If the complaint were upheld, patients and their doctors would not have a choice in hormone treatments. Wythe's commercial strategy of trying to eliminate the 'competition' from compounding pharmacies is against the public interest and in the interest of its own corporate profits. Women and their doctors should be able to choose between patented formulations such as those offered by Wyeth, bioidentical formulas available from compounding pharmacies, and no hormone treatment. I have been taking bio-identical hormones for several years and have had excellent results in improving my symptoms. I have been unable to take other synthetic hormones in the past, and am very concerned that my best treatment option will be taken away.