The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3244.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 12:45 PM

Abstract #60080

Drugs for the "prevention" of breast cancer: Danger in a pill

Barbara A. Brenner, JD, Breast Cancer Action, 55 New Montgomery Street, Suite 323, San Francisco, CA 94105, 415-243-9301,

The prevention of breast cancer is central public health goal. How to achieve this goal is the subject of substantial disagreement. For Breast Cancer Action and the Prevention First Coalition, the acceptable public health approach to breast cancer prevention lies in finding and eradicating the causes of breast cancer, not in medicating healthy women. Yet drug companies are developing and marketing pills for breast cancer "prevention" in healthy women. One drug - tamoxifen - has already been approved by the FDA for use by healthy women to reduce their risk of the disease. The media frequently refers to these types of drugs as "prevention" pills, though people who take them can and do develop breast cancer.

New drugs - including ralixofene and anastrozole - are being developed and tested for breast cancer "prevention." Some of these drugs are already being marketed to the public and the medical community, though they have not been approved by the FDA for this use, and have potentially fatal side effects.

With the onslaught of direct-to-consumer advertising and the initiation early this year of an anastrozole "prevention" trial, the public health community faces enormous challenges in assuring that people receive complete information about the medical approach to breast cancer prevention. The Prevention First Coalition provides the analysis that is essential to educate the public about the dangers of simplistic approaches to breast cancer prevention, and the importance of research into and public policy action on the causes of breast cancer.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Breast Cancer, Preventive Medicine

Related Web page:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: I am an employee of Breast Cancer Action, which is a member of the Prevention First Coalition.

Drug Pushers: How Big PhRMA is Hazardous to Women's Health

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA