CHICAGO (AP) -- On television, in magazines, even in doctors' mailboxes, bold promotions for "natural" remedies for menopause symptoms are showing up in the wake of bad news about hormone pills.
While scientists research whether products like black cohosh, soy and red clover can live up to the claims, some herbal manufacturers are boosting advertising, sending samples to doctors and setting up exhibits at medical meetings.
The makers of Promensil -- a red clover supplement that promoters say can "take the edge off" symptoms like hot flashes -- even offered doctors $1,000 to attend an informational session following last month's North American Menopause Society meeting here.
"That was the first time that I've ever seen an herb company try the same tactics that are very common among drug companies -- bribing doctors to attend a promotion," said Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman of George Washington University. She declined the invitation.
The herbal companies "see a golden opportunity in the exodus from estrogen," Fugh-Berman said, after a Women's Health Initiative study showed over the summer that the estrogen-progestin pill many women take could actually be harmful.
Australia-based Novogen, the maker of Promensil, contends that its informational session was not prompted by the study and that the money was just to cover the cost of staying an extra day after the menopause society meeting -- not to influence those attending.
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