A Reading, Massachusetts is the latest plaintiff of a Boston personal injury lawsuit seeking damages from drug manufacturers, including ex-DES drur makers Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly, for her breast cancer. Barbara Bradlee believes she developed breast cancer because she was exposed to the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) while her mom was still pregnant with her. DES, an estrogen medication, used to prescribed to pregnant moms a few decades ago because it was thought the drug would stop miscarriages.
Studies eventually showed, however, that DES was not effective and could cause cancer and reproductive tract defects in females who were exposed to them while they were still in their mothers’ wombs. Bradlee, 52, was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago.
While the drug manufacturers are continuing to maintain that the link between breast cancer and DES is not definitive, a study conducted by Julie Palmer, who is a Boston University epidemiologist, found that the the risk of breast cancer in women over 40 who experienced prenatal exposure to DES is double that of the average woman. Palmer, however, did tell the Boston Globe that the risk of breast cancer from prenatal DES exposure is not high and this connection has not been confirmed.
That said, considering that the risk of a female who wasn’t exposed to DES for developing cancer is one out of eight and it is one out of four for women who experienced prenatal DES exposure is 1 in 4-that’s a 25% cancer risk. According to the American Cancer Society, about 5 to 10 million people were exposed to DES, including pregnant moms and their babies.
DES exposure has also been linked to vaginal adenocarcinoma. Some studies report that a DES daughter’s risk of developing this rare type of cancer is 40 times more than that of the average female women. Approximately 1 out of a thousand women under age 30 who were exposed to the drug in this manner will develop these cancer tumors.
Unfortunately, there are dangerous medications that can cause serious harm to the fetus. This can result in serious birth defects and other injuries and health complications after delivery. Drug manufacturers must be held liable for Massachusetts products liability if their medications caused these types of injuries-especially as many others wouldn’t have taken these medications if they’d known the possible health complications they could be creating for their children.
Possible breast cancer link to DES exposure spurs Boston lawsuit, Boston.com, September 28, 2011
Prenatal diethylstilbestrol exposure and risk of breast cancer, PubMed.gov
Vaginal Cancer, American Cancer Society
Prenatal diethylstilbestrol exposure and risk of breast cancer, NIH.gov
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An experienced Boston injury lawyer can help you explore your legal options.