Most expectant mothers will do everything necessary to ensure their unborn baby is developing properly and born healthy. For pregnant women today, this often includes taking certain medications or supplements to ensure the growing baby receives adequate nutrition. In years past, expectant mothers were often prescribed medications and drugs that have now been deemed dangerous or defective.
From roughly 1940 to 1970, millions of pregnant American women were prescribed a synthetic form of estrogen known as diethylstilbestrol or DES. The drug was used to boost a pregnant woman's estrogen levels which were believed to help prevent miscarriage and premature labor.
During the 1970s, DES was pulled from the market after it was determined the drug increased the risk of a pregnant woman's daughter developing vaginal and cervical cancer later in life. What's more, researchers determined the drug was not effective in preventing miscarriage.
Since DES was pulled from the market, numerous lawsuits have been filed by so-called "DES daughters" who have experienced adverse side effects from exposure to the drug. In addition to vaginal and cervical cancer, DES has been linked to fertility problems, ectopic pregnancy and premature delivery.
Recently, four sisters joined a group of women who have filed lawsuits against several drug manufacturers including Eli Lilly and Co. The sisters contend they all developed breast cancer as a result of being exposed to DES while in utero. Additionally, the sisters all experienced fertility problems which they also attribute to DES exposure.
According to one medical study, a DES daughter is 50 percent more likely to develop breast cancer by the age of 55 than a woman who was not exposed to DES. While this medical evidence is compelling, drug makers such as Eli Lilly contend the women's claims are without merit.
Our law firm helps individuals who have suffered harm from defective or dangerous drugs. Our attorneys handle pharmaceutical litigation and liability matters.
Source: CBS News, "Mom's pregnancy drug caused breast cancer in four daughters, lawsuit alleges," Associated Press, Jan. 4, 2013