Do You Have One of 21 Dangerous Side Effects of Lupron?
By David Carnes, Staff Writer
Lupron, also known as leuprolide acetate, is a drug manufactured by Takeda Abbott Pharmaceuticals that has been on the market since 1985. It is administered by injection and is used to treat prostate cancer, early onset puberty and endometriosis. The use of Lupron has been dogged by allegations of dangerous side effects, inadequate testing and corrupt marketing practices, and Takeda Abbot has suffered legal liability of more than $1 billion as a result. At least 25 deaths are suspected to have been Lupron-related.
21 Dangerous Side Effects
Potentially dangerous side effects that have been associated with the use of Lupron include the following:
- Headaches (including migraines)
- Increased risk of stroke and diabetes
- Erectile dysfunction
- Breathing difficulties
- Pain in the chest, groin, jaw, neck, back, arms or joints
- Blurred vision
- Loss of appetite
- Impaired memory
- Irregular heartbeat
- Hot flashes
- Swelling and tenderness
- Thyroid problems
- Decreased bone density
- Itching and hives
- Immune and nervous system problems
Flash Point: Treatment for Endometriosis
Doubts about the use of Lupron are particularly acute with respect to its use in the treatment of endometriosis, a condition in which the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus. Even though the drug temporarily stops menstruation in women with this condition, it can return after treatment is concluded. Furthermore, adverse side effects appear to be particularly persistent in women treated with Lupron for endometriosis--the Endometriosis Research Center concluded in a research report that in some cases adverse side effects continued for five years after Lupron injections were administered.
Corruption and Lawsuits
Takeda Abbott pled guilty to criminal violations of the Federal Prescription Drug Marketing Act in 2001, after a lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Ultimately, Takeda Abbott agreed to pay a whopping $875 million to settle claims arising from improper payments to physicians to induce them to prescribe Lupron to their patients. It also surfaced that research reports regarding the drug had been fabricated, that Takeda Abbott had suppressed information about negative side effects, and that long-term effects were inadequately research before the drug was released onto the market.
A 2004, Takeda Abbott settled yet another lawsuit for $150 million for systematic overcharging of patients and private insurance companies. Several Lupron-related class action lawsuits have been filed against Takeda Abbott.
The Way Forward
Although thus far there have been no successful lawsuits directly implicating the harmful side effects of Lupron, in spite of the corruption surrounding its marketing—inadequate research, suppression of adverse effects, falsification of research findings and financial kickbacks offered to doctors. After 30 years of use, doubts persist about whether its benefits outweigh its risks.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should take a closer look at Lupron, its side effects, and the conditions for which it is prescribed. If an investigation reveals that the risks outweigh the benefits, the use of Lupron should be restricted to the most at-risk patients or it should be taken off the market completely. Any further falsified research or suppression of adverse reactions on the part of Takeda Abbott should result in prison time for any executives found to be responsible.