Arline MacCormack has filed a lawsuit in Boston against 14 drug manufacturers, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., and Eli Lilly, over the drug DES and its links to breast cancer. MacCormack is one of 53 women who have filed lawsuits against drug companies who sold or promoted DES, diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic estrogen used from the late 30s to the early 70s to prevent premature birth and miscarriages.
In 1971, the FDA stopped the use of the drug after a study found that when DES was taken during pregnancy, daughters were born with increased risk of developing a rare vaginal cancer in their teens and early 20s, USA Today reported. Since the 70s, the drug has also been linked to cervical cancers, as well as infertility problems in daughters.
Daughters of mothers who used DES are acutely aware of the Boston lawsuit, as it is the first major case that is alleging a link between DES and breast cancer in daughters over 40. A study by Dr. Robert Hoover of the National Cancer Institute showed that DES daughters have a 1 in 25 chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 55.
MacCormack’s lawsuit alleges the drug companies withheld reports that DES did not prevent miscarriages, and questioned the safety of the medication.