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Women outraged over drug's ill effects

by Kay LazarBoston Herald
August 24th, 1999

At least a dozen women yesterday from around Greater Boston said they were angry to learn that a drug they were all prescribed for various gynecological problems may be linked to serious, lasting side effects in scores of others across the country.

The women spoke out after reading a series in the Herald about Lupron, a drug that was designed for men with advanced prostate cancer but is now widely prescribed for women for many gynecological problems, including infertility.

"I would not have taken it if I was told there would be lingering pain, because it's horrible," said Lisa Plante, 42, a mother of two in Fall River.

Plante said she received three injections of Lupron three years ago, and has struggled with strange pains in her joints ever since. She said she didn't have those pains before taking Lupron.

"I feel like I'm 80. My body is always sore," she said.

The Herald series highlighted health problems women have reported after taking Lupron. One of the most common problems they've reported is strange, gnawing joint and bone pains.

The drug's packaging does list several potential serious side effects, including memory disorders, depression and a "small loss" of bone mass. But many of the women are reporting that the drug's side effects don't go away - even after they stop taking Lupron.

"'My big fear is my problems will not be reversible," said Elizabeth, 29, a fund-raiser in Boston who asked that her last name not be used.

Elizabeth said she stopped taking Lupron in June, and has "transient bone pain" now and depression. The drug's packaging does warn that depression might be a side effect.

"I am scared to death that I will never feel the same as I did before going on the drug," Elizabeth said.

A 30-year-old mortgage financer from Weymouth who read the Herald series said she also is nervous now. She said she has taken Lupron for about two years and is suffering from "arthritis-like" symptoms.

The drug's packaging recommends patients not take the drug for more than six months, because few studies have been done on patients who have taken the drug longer than that. However, several of the women who called the Herald said their doctors have routinely prescribed the drug for a lot longer than that.

For more information on the Lupron petition: www.delphi.com-afterlupron

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