National Partnership for Women & Families

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Women Sue Makers of Miscarriage Drug DES, Allege Breast Cancer Link

Women Sue Makers of Miscarriage Drug DES, Allege Breast Cancer Link

January 10, 2011 — Fifty-three U.S. women are suing drug companies who manufactured and promoted a synthetic estrogen that had been prescribed to millions of women to prevent miscarriage, alleging that they have developed breast cancer as a result of their mothers taking the drug, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Pregnant women took DES from about 1938 until 1971, when FDA told physicians to stop prescribing it after a study found that the drug appeared to increase the risk of a rare vaginal cancer years later for women born to mothers who took DES.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed since the drug went off the market that argue DES has caused cervical and vaginal cancers, as well as infertility problems. The new case -- filed in Boston -- is believed to be the first major litigation attempting to link DES and breast cancer for women over age 40 (Lavoie, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/8).