Women Behaving Badly?
Cash or Compassion?
In medicine, some old habits are hard to break: The very word
"hysteria" comes from the Greek for uterus (hystera). And if you
think we've come a long way since then, baby, consider the following excerpt
from an article titled "Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women
Employees," published in the July 1943 issue of the trade journal
"4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a
special physical examination -- one covering female conditions. This step not
only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but also
reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses, which would make
her mentally or physically unfit for the job."
Allyne Rosenthal, DC, a Chicago-based chiropractor and
practitioner of functional medicine, has studied and written about the creation
of PMDD as a distinct medical entity. She tells WebMD that new attention being
paid by the medical and pharmaceutical industries to PMDD, female sexual
dysfunction, and menopause may be motivated as much by cash as by
"The hallmark of adolescence is hormonal imbalance.
Therefore, the numbers of young girls who will deemed to be candidates for this
medication are astronomical if they go ahead with this, and that is one of the
major problems," she says.
Rosenthal also expresses concern that fluoxetine was not tested
for long-term use prior to FDA approval, yet giving it to combat the hormonal
effects of menstruation is, in effect, writing a reproductive-length
"The tests on it were 6-8 weeks, but PMS is not a
short-term syndrome," she says. She points to evidence suggesting that
long-term use of Prozac and similar drugs could cause serious side effects,
such as those seen with the older generation of powerful antidepressants that
were prescribed in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.
Asked by WebMD to comment on the concerns of critics, Lilly
spokeswoman Laura Miller drew attention to an FDA "talk paper" issued
in July 2000 to coincide with the agency's approval of Sarafem for PMDD. The
document states that "on November 3, 1999, FDA's Psychopharmacologic
Advisory Committee unanimously recommended approval for fluoxetine to treat
women with PMDD. The committee concluded that fluoxetine was effective for the
condition and that PMDD has well defined, accepted diagnostic