Promoting drugs through hairdressers: is nothing sacred?

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 16 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1180
  1. Hilda Bastian, former chair (
  1. Consumers' Health Forum of Australia

    The HRT (hormone replacement therapy) scare, which began this July with the release of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study, could be expected to be a major worry to pharmaceutical companies. After all, HRT accounts for 10% of the sales of a company like Novo Nordisk, for example. Ten per cent of sales, from a company that made a net profit of almost £330 million, is quite a lot tohave at stake. These companies have moved swiftly to respond to this business risk in various ways. Nor did they have all their postmenopausal hormone chips on just one drug. Consider, for example, how another of Novo Nordisk's HRT products, a tropical preparation called Vagifem, was ready tostep into the breach for women concerned about not losing one of HRT's selling points—more comfortable intercourse.

    Doctors and journalists responding to the WHI results were swift to let women know about the Vagifem alternative. One doctor recommended it in …

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