It’s been brought to my attention that the Daily Mail ran a story yesterday about a piece of new research. The headline trumpeted:
Anti-depressant ‘relieves hot flushes in more than half of menopausal women’ Venlafaxine improved flushing in over 60 per cent of patients. However, it is known to cause withdrawal symptoms.
And the research was funded by a charity (adds credibility):
Wellbeing of Women, a charity which funded the study, hopes the findings could lead to new treatments for the problem, offering an alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
HRT was found to be the most effective treatment, with 75 per cent noting an improvement, while venlafaxine improved flushing in over 60 per cent of patients – with the majority of those prescribed it wishing to continue with the drug. Clonidine only worked in 40 per cent of the women.
Interesting story, very positive without going over the top – Pfizer, the company that manufactures Venlafaxine must be pleased; this research could be the first step to opening up a huge new market for its drug (withdrawal symptoms aside of course).
I just can’t help wanting to dig a little deeper though… and I wonder if there might be some conflicts of interest floating just below the surface.
It seems that Wellbeing of Women numbers Pfizer amongst its corporate funders – you know, the same Pfizer that makes Venlafaxine, the drug that did so well in the new research funded by Wellbeing of Women, which is part funded by Pfizer…etc etc
I have a couple of questions – HRT v. a Pfizer antidepressant v. a blood pressure tablet – I wonder how the drugs on trial were chosen – and I wonder how well the placebo group performed?
Could there be a conflict of interest here? I’m sure there isn’t, but this ‘news item’ throws up a number of issues.
Over to you Wellbeing of Women…
[Read more here about the ways in which drug companies have used 'charities' to market their products under the guise of honest research].