In the 1950s, many pregnant women were given diethylstilbestrol, or DES, to help prevent complications such as miscarriages and premature births. By the 1970s, it was no longer being prescribed because daughters of the women who took DES during their pregnancy were being diagnosed with a vaginal cancer that is otherwise very rare. After it was deemed a dangerous drug and removed from the market, several studies showed that DES may not have even prevented the issues it was supposed to prevent. More recently, women have claimed a link between their breast cancer and the fact that their mothers were given DES while pregnant. Those women include four sisters, all of whom were diagnosed with breast cancer in the 40s and required treatments including a lumpectomy, a mastectomy, and radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
These sisters filed a lawsuit against Eli Lilly, claiming the drug maker was responsible for their cancer because their mother was given DES when she was pregnant with them and Eli Lilly manufactured and sold DES at the time. The four women have also dealt with various reproductive issues, including infertility and miscarriages. Attorneys for Eli Lilly said the company isn’t liable because there is no proof that the mother was given DES or that Eli Lilly was the one who manufactured the DES that was supposedly prescribed. The sisters contend that the DES had to have caused their cancer because a fifth sister who was born without her mother being given the drug has not had breast cancer.
On January 9, 2012, Eli Lilly settled with the four sisters, potentially opening up discussions between the other victims and pharmaceutical companies involved in other lawsuits. Hopefully these women will be fairly compensated for their pain and suffering caused by this dangerous drug. Our Virginia personal injury attorneys have handled a wide array of dangerous drugs cases, including fentanyl pain patch accidental death cases, Depuy defective hip replacement devices, Yaz/Yasmin birth control claims, and faulty or defective product cases. Unfortunately some medications and medical devices that are meant to help a person may end up doing more harm than good.
About the Editors: Our personal injury law firm has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC). The attorneys with the firm publish and edit articles on three Legal Examiner sites for the geographic areas of Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Northeast North Carolina as a pro bono service to the general public.