Health Alert 6
The problem with HRT or Hormone Replacement Therapy is that it’s none of the above. What I mean is this. The pharmaceutical products billed as HRT aren’t hormones at all and by taking them, you are not actually replacing anything.
Real hormones are available. They are safe when used appropriately. They are very inexpensive and that, believe it or not, is the problem.
You see, hormones are produced by your body. Therefore, they are naturally occurring. If something occurs in nature, it can’t be patented. To patent something, you have to prove that you invented or created something exclusive or new.
If a drug company can’t patent a therapy, they can’t corner the market. Other companies are free to produce the same drug at a lower price. Competition drives down prices and profits far below what drug companies are accustom to. So the big pharmaceutical companies don’t produce them at all. But that hasn’t stopped them from claiming they have “replacement hormones”.
* Big Pharma’s Bad Habit *
Take the prescription drug Provera as an example. It’s billed as progesterone replacement. In truth, years of research and hundreds of millions of dollars were spent to find a drug that was different enough from progesterone to be patentable – even though progesterone was already inexpensively available. Upjohn won the race with the development of medroxyprogesterone acetate, which they call Provera. And they won big. Provera has become one of the ten most profitable drugs of all time.
But like the other synthetic chemicals billed as HRT, medroxyprogesterone acetate is not a hormone and it never occurred in your body. They are chemicals created to mimic hormones so they could be more profitable. Am I the only one who thinks that you shouldn’t call taking something you’ve never had before “replacement”?
So they are not hormones. It is not replacement therapy. So what should we call these pharmaceutical concoctions? I don’t think we need a new term. We already have a word. It’s not what my father would call a “pearl-handled word”. But it’s honest, accurate, and simple … and we all already know what it means. The word is drug.
I no longer use these drugs in my practice. The alternatives are safer. They range from herbal supplements to real hormone replacement.
* How to Get Real Hormonal Replacement Therapy *
If you want to replace declining hormones, the real ones are available. We get them from compounding pharmacies. A compounding pharmacist prepares customized prescription medications to meet individual patient needs. He can mix not only pre-packaged drugs but a wider variety of substances including naturally occurring hormones. He can put any combination of any dose into pills, creams or lotions.
Your doctor may not be familiar with compounding. With over reliance on pre-packaged drugs it has become a bit of a lost art. You can assist him by finding a compounding pharmacist on your own. Thankfully, there has been a recent resurgence fueled by the growing interest in more natural alternatives.
You can use your computer to find a compounding pharmacy. You can visit The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacist’s homepage at www.iacprx.org. They are a non-profit organization that represents over 1300 compounding pharmacists. Use there listings to find the one nearest you. You can also find national compounding companies that (with a doctor’s prescription) will mail direct to your home.
A caveat: Although natural is safer than the drugs, hormone tinkering is tricky business even with natural hormones. Consult your doctor, have your levels checked and educate yourself before considering any kind of hormone therapy.
When taken appropriately, real, naturally occurring hormones are a superior alternative to hormone mimicking drugs. In an upcoming letter, I’ll talk about how a woman can use herbs as another alternative.
Next issue – the Big Lie from Big Pharma to men.
Al Sears, MD