Thousands of lawsuits have been filed in which plaintiffs allege that DES, a pregnancy drug, caused vaginal cancer, cervical cancer, and fertility problems. Most recently, however, a lawsuit alleging that DES caused fetal cancer was settled shortly after its trial began. As this Washington Post article explains, the lawsuit was filed against Eli Lilly and Co. by four sisters with breast cancer, who alleged that the medication, which was taken by their mother during the 1950s, caused their cancer.
The plaintiffs argued that the drug maker failed to adequately test the drug’s effect on fetuses before marketing and promoting the medication. Specifically, the plaintiffs’ attorney argued that Eli Lilly urged doctors to prescribe DES without providing proof that the drug was safe for both mother and fetus or that it was effective in preventing miscarriages.
DES, or diethylstilbestrol, is a synthetic hormone drug that some women were prescribed to ward off early labor and prevent miscarriage. DES was on the market until the early 1970s when it was linked to a rare vaginal cancer in women whose mothers used DES. Studies later showed that the drug did not actually prevent miscarriages.
The plaintiffs’ mother did not take DES when pregnant with the plaintiff’s fifth sister, who has not developed breast cancer. The plaintiffs also suffered a number of other medical problems, including miscarriages, fertility problems and other reproductive tract problems, which have also been linked to DES.
Several other similar cases have been filed around the country. In total there are 51 DES lawsuits pending in U.S. District Court in Boston against more than a dozen companies that made or marketed the drug.
As we explained here, pharmaceutical companies may have influence over the FDA approval process and the medical industry’s perception of a drug’s safety and efficacy. The Washington Post recently pointed out that misleading reports developed by pharmaceutical companies indicated that there were minimal risks of addiction associated with opioids like OxyContin. Those reports were used by the FDA, well-respected medical journals, and state medical boards in reaching decisions to approve and/or promote the drugs. The influential reports eventually made their way to physicians through Big Pharma’s marketing efforts. The doctors, in turn, relied on the data to prescribe the drugs more often and to more patients. Recently, however, studies have revealed that opioids do, in fact, cause addiction.
At Ankin Law Offices, LLC, our Chicago unsafe pharmaceutical attorneys are dedicated to protecting patients and consumers from harmful prescription drugs and medication errors that can result when drug makers fail to take the appropriate and necessary actions to produce safe and effective pharmaceutical drugs.
If you have been injured by a dangerous or defective pharmaceutical, contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys to discuss a possible legal claim.