Wyeth to stop making HRT, focus on cancer research

Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company that makes hormone replacement therapies Prempro and Premarin, announced today that it is ending its research in its signature areas of contraceptives and menopause treatments to focus on other female problems such as ovarian and breast cancers, according to the Associated Press/Washington Post.

The changes, which go into effect immediately, are part of “Project Impact,” a restructuring plan announced by Wyeth in January that cuts 10 percent – or about 5,000 – of its workforce. As part of Project Impact, the company will narrow its focus to find more successful new drugs especially those for which no good treatments are available. Thus, it will scale back from research on 55 diseases to only 27.

Wyeth’s new focus will be on vaccines; cancer; inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, severe asthma and lupus; metabolic conditions such as diabetes and obesity; musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis and spinal fracture; and neuroscience such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, depression, schizophrenia and chronic pain, according to the report.

The Women’s Health Initiative found hormone replacement therapy increased a woman’s risk for breast cancer and other serious diseases and conditions.

According to the report, Wyeth will continue with late-stage testing on experimental menopause drugs Aprela and Pristiq. (Currently, the FDA has demanded additional research data on Pristiq.) A study of 3,400 women indicated no evidence of increased breast cancer rates. Wyeth plans to submit Aprela for FDA approval in the second half of 2009.