While the drug, diethylstilbestrol (DES), was taken off the market several years ago, recent studies have revealed that the medication could be the cause of reproductive tract defects and cancers in girls born to mothers who took the drug during pregnancy. To that end, a group of breast cancer patients have come together to file a lawsuit in a Boston court, claiming their cancers were caused by the prenatal exposure to DES.
The plaintiffs are alleging that there is enough scientific evidence, found in both animal studies and epidemiological research, to prove their cancers were caused by DES exposure. Conversely, former manufacturers of DES, Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb, are arguing that the link between their product and breast cancer is simply an unproven hypothesis.
Both sides will be pleading their case in court over the next few months, debating the results of various epidemiological studies that link DES to breast tumors. In fact, several studies have suggested that the daughters of DES patients have a higher risk for developing cancer that’s 40 times greater than that of the average woman. This kind of information could pose an extreme liability risk for the drug’s makers, should the judge rule in favor of the plaintiffs, allowing their lawsuit to move forward.