Leslie Carol Botha: DES is an example of an uncontrolled medical experiment gone wrong. And how many generations ago was that – and women are still affected by adverse reactions? DES should be a wake up call for women on synthetic hormones… and who are considering getting the HPV vaccine, Gardasil or Cervarix. Mark my words this vaccines will go down as the DES of the 21st century.
Looking at whether drug hurt women years later
By DENISE LAVOIE AP Legal Affairs Writer
Published: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.
BOSTON – At first, the Melnick sisters thought it was just a cruel coincidence that two of them were diagnosed with breast cancer.
But when two more sisters were given the same diagnosis, they came to suspect that a drug their mother took in the 1950s while she was pregnant had something to do with it.
The four sisters are now suing a former maker of DES, or diethylstilbestrol, in a case set to unfold in federal court today, when it will become one of the first of scores of such claims around the U.S. to go to trial. The Melnick women are seeking unspecified damages.
The numerous pharmaceutical companies that made or marketed the drug argue that no firm link has been established between breast cancer and DES, a synthetic estrogen that was prescribed to millions of women from the late 1930s to the early 1970s to prevent miscarriage, premature births and other problems.
It was eventually pulled from the market after being linked to a rare vaginal cancer in women whose mothers used DES. And studies showed the drug did not prevent miscarriages after all.
All four Melnick sisters had miscarriages, fertility problems or other reproductive tract problems long suspected of being caused by prenatal exposure to DES. Then in 2008, one of the sisters read about a study reporting an increased incidence of breast cancer in the daughters of women who took DES during pregnancy.
“That’s when we really started to say, ‘Wow, there really could be a link. It’s not just in our head,'” said Donna Melnick McNeely, a special education assistant from Las Cruces, N.M., who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 49.