50 years after her birth, Arline MacCormack believes that the DES drug that her mother took while she was pregnant has caused her to now develop breast cancer. MacCormack, a Newton resident, is one of more than 50 women in the US have filed products liability lawsuits against the drug manufacturers for marketing diethylstilbestrol to women who were expecting babies between 1938 and the early 70’s. Millions of women in different countries took the drug to prevent birth problems, include premature births and miscarriages.
It wasn’t until 1971, after a studied showed that taking DES increased the chances that the female babies might develop vaginal cancer years later, that the FDA told physicians to stop prescribing the drug to women who were pregnant. Since then, thousands of dangerous drug lawsuits have been filed by DES daughters who claim the drug caused their infertility issues, cervical cancer, and vaginal cancer. A lot of these products liability cases were settled before going to court.
MacCormack’s Boston DES lawsuit is considered the first significant lawsuit claiming a connection between breast cancer and DES in women over 40. She is blaming 14 drug manufacturers, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Eli Lilly and Co,. for not letting the FDA and doctors know that DES came with serious safety risks and actually did not stop miscarriages from happening.
The Newton woman was 44 when she was diagnosed with the disease. She says the type of breast cancer she has is more associated with women over 60.
MacCormack’s claims are supported by a recent study involving National Cancer Institute researcher Dr. Robert Hover. The study suggests that DES daughters older than 40 have a 1 in 25 risk of developing breast cancer, while other women in that age range (until they turn 55) have a 1 in 50 chance. Drug manufacturers have disputed this.
Earlier this month, a federal judge in Boston heard the drug makers’ motions claiming that the opinions of the experts the female plaintiffs’ have cited aren’t based on reliable science. They want any testimony from the experts excluded from the case. U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler, however, turned down their motions and has told the drug manufactures to go into mediation with the women plaintiffs.
Boston lawsuit claims DES-breast cancer link, USA Today, January 10, 2012
Judge orders talks in DES-breast cancer case, MassLive, January 20, 2012
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If you believe that a dangerous drug caused your injury, you should speak with a Boston injury lawyer right away.