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STUDY: Survey finds a majority continuing hormone therapy
JOURNAL: Express Scripts
ABSTRACT: More than half of women taking hormone replacement therapy stuck with it last year despite reports that show it can raise the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke, a new survey found.
COMMENTARY: Studies released over the summer indicated significant health risks associated with HRT, 36 percent of women stopped their treatments, the survey by pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts found.
But 57 percent continued using HRT, the St. Louis-based company found. And even though the studies found no extra risk for women taking estrogen alone, 22.6 percent of those surveyed stopped taking an estrogen product, Express Scripts said.
For its report, Express Scripts surveyed a sample of 372,777 women who used HRT or osteoporosis drugs. The company compared use patterns last year before and after the announcement, and during similar periods in 2001.
The Food and Drug Administration strengthened warning labels on all women’s hormone replacement therapy products to take account of last year’s findings.
An estimated 10 million women were taking HRT at the time last year’s reports were released.
The risk to an individual woman is small, but accumulates when many women take the drugs over time. The FDA says the overall risks to women outweigh the benefits of the drugs, but recommends that each woman consult with her doctor about what to do.
The studies used only Wyeth’s PremPro and related products, but the FDA said there was no reason to believe that other HRT products would not have similar effects.
HRT was, until last year, widely prescribed to treat not only the immediate symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, but also to prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.