Society for Women's Health Research

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The Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR) is a Washington, DC nonprofit organization which claims that its "sole mission is to improve the health of women through research." However, it has received substantial funding from the Wyeth-Ayerst drug company, and rose to Wyeth's defense when research showed that Wyeth's hormone replacement therapy hurts women.

In July 2002, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it was abandoning its study of the effects of Prempro, Wyeth's market-leading hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drug. NIH had originally planned an eight-year trial of the drug, but it only took five years to accumulate conclusive evidence of increased health damage to women who use the drug over time. The announcement was reported with shock in media outlets around the world, which had long been accustomed to glowing reports of HRT.

Women's health and consumer groups welcomed the decision, but the SWHR condemned the NIH decision and distributed op-eds and letters to newspapers around the country. Reporting in Washington Monthly, Alicia Mundy noted that Wyeth and other drug companies are represented on the group's corporate advisory board, but details of the group's funding remain obscure. "Our attorney says it is confidential information that we don't distribute," Mundy was told when she inquired.

The SWHR website notes, however, that Wyeth has been a corporate sponsor of its annual fundraising ball at the Washington Ritz-Carlton. In fact, Wyeth underwrote the entire glitzy affair, which promoted Prempro so enthusiastically that one attendee complained it was "like they were doing an ad for Wyeth."

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