Newsletter The Women’s Health Activist® is a bimonthly publication of the National Women’s Health Network. We’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail questions or comments to email@example.com.
The National Women's Health Network expresses its sorrow at the passing of Mary Howell Raugust who died of breast cancer February 5. Mary Howell was one of five founders of the Network and made significant changes in women's health through her work as an academic physician and a supporter of women's health activism.
A group of former nurses led by Janet Kenepp and Sharon Sowers from Pennsylvania is creating a support group to help other health care workers who have been exposed to the chemical glutaraldehyde, a highly toxic cold sterilant used to clean medical instruments.
The chemical is used in a variety of settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, X-ray facilities, and dental offices. Health care workers may experience adverse health effects if not properly protected or are not made aware of safe handling procedures.
Although physicians and other clinicians with prescribing authority have always been able to prescribe drugs for any condition which they think may be helped by that specific drug, pharmaceutical companies have been prohibited from promoting drugs for unapproved uses. Only uses which have been approved by the FDA are listed on the label and unapproved uses are commonly called "off label". Even though the ability to advertise their drugs for additional uses should be enough of an incentive for drug companies to seek additional approval, many companies don't.
By Lisa Cox
The Network is asking for your help with an important advocacy project called "Putting Women First" aimed at increasing support for women-centered reproductive health policies, including raising awareness about the quality of information and counseling provided to women about Norplant and Depo- Provera. The project, partially supported by a grant from the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, will allow us to mount an aggressive campaign to pressure the PDA for mandated, written informed consent.
Just last month, mainstream press reported that the FDA appears to have bowed to drug company pressure and excluded scientists known to be critical of Redux from a public meeting which led to the drug's approval. Kathleen Kerr, writing in Newsday, reported that Intemeuron Pharmaceuticals sent the FDA dossiers criticizing scientists whose testimony played an important role in an earlier meeting at which Redux was turned down.
Bringing Hope and Health to Women with Epilepsy: An Interview with Elizabeth Borda, Director of the Women and Epilepsy Initiative at the Epilepsy Foundation
The following article is taken from a piece by the Clinical Nursing Practice in Epilepsy. NWHN worked with the Epilepsy Foundation this past fall to distribute mailings on women with epilepsy.
Q: I'm thinking about getting Norplant or Depo-Provera. What questions should I ask my doctor?
A: The decision to begin taking a longacting contraceptive such as Norplant or Depo-Provera is one that should be considered carefully. It is important that you have access to accurate and unbiased information.
Estrogen Without Cancer? Don't Bet Your Life on It! Raloxifene: Is It Really a Replacement for Hormone Replacement Therapy?
by Cindy Pearson
By the time you read this, Eli Lilly Company's attempt to capture the market for the most commonly prescribed drug in the country will be in full swing. Bolstered by a speedy approval usually reserved for new therapies for life-threatening diseases, Lilly has been able to market its new drug, raloxifene, less than nine months after the first public discussion of its effects. This rush to market is coupled with an advertising campaign so aggressive that ads appeared months before the drug was even approved.
About YOUR Health- Questions and Answers from the NWHN Women's Health Information Clearinghouse: Osteoporosis
Q: Are all women at risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures after menopause? What can be done to help change these risk factors besides hormone replacement therapy? For example, can natural preuentative measures decrease the risks?
by Kathy Kulkami
Thalidomide is back. In 1960, the drug was rejected for approval by the FDA thanks to the heroic efforts of Dr. Frances Kelsey. It became apparent that the drug caused appalling birth defects in children whose mothers were exposed to thalidomide during pregnancy. On September 4th and 5th, the FDA Dermatologic Drugs Advisory Committee met to evaluate the efficacy, safety and risk/benefit analysis of thalidomide use in a leprosy-associated condition, called ENL (erythema nodosum leprosum).
Women enrolled in HMOs were more likely to have breast conserving surgery for breast cancer than women whose care was paid for by traditional fee-for-service insurance. The study was conducted in Seattle and the Bay Area and included over 13,000 women with breast cancer, all of whom were 65 years or older.
Recently, Network members have asked whether we accept matching contributions from members' employers. Yes, we can accept matching contributions. Please contact Beverly Thomas if you would like to know more about this program. And if you happen to be employed by a computer company, we would love to talk to you about computer donations! Thanks to all the members who have contacted us about various ways to support the Network
Estrogen Without Cancer? Don't Bet Your Life On It! Tamoxifen Trial Stopped Early Network's Predictions of Disease Substitution Come True
by Cindy Pearson
In a dramatic press conference on April 6, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced that it was stopping the tamoxifen prevention trial more than a year early. NCI revealed that women on tamoxifen were 45% less likely to develop breast cancer over a four year period than were similar women given a look-alike pill (placebo). These results were presented to the public with great fanfare and described by Dr. Richard Klausner, the head of the NCI, as "remarkable."
by Sonja Herbert
The Breast Cancer Prevention Program
Samuel Epstein, MD and David Steinman. $24.95. 416 pages. Great title and great premise a comprehensive guide to both personal prevention and political activism. Unfortunately, the guide suffers from editing errors and selective reporting. Take advantage of chapters on topics as diverse as ERT, workplace hazards, diet, tamoxifen, and breast implants but doublecheck the references.
Physician Assistants and Women's Health
by Cindy Pearson
The Network's Citizen Petition calling for a stop to the inappropriate use of the terbutaline pump has been granted and the distributor of the pump has dropped the lawsuit it had filed against the Network.
by Lisa Cox
Do douching products make women more susceptible to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, and cervical cancer? The Network thinks so and now a recent review of 30 years of scientific study on the risks of douching adds even further credence to our concerns.
by Anna Choi
Just as we went to press, the Network learned that the FDA has ruled favorably on our terbutaline pump petition. The FDA agreed with our assessment of the science and has said explicitly that the terbutaline pump is potentially dangerous and has not been shown to work. The FDA is sending letters to practitioners, home health care companies and insurers alerting them to the status of the terbutaline pump. The FDA is also investigating the promotional activities of companies which provide terbutaline pumps.
by Carolyn V. Brown
Managed care and health maintenance organizations are with us for the time being. Once enrolled in a managed care plan, women are being asked to "choose your primary care provider PCP)" in order to access the health and medical system.