07 Jan 2013, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: Four sisters have sued the maker of diethylstilbestrol (DES), a now-banned drug, claiming that the drug resulted in them having fertility issues and developing breast cancer. The four sisters, with the surname Melnick, are suing Eli Lilly for unspecified damages claiming that their mother took DES in the 1950s while pregnant.
The case has been registered in Boston, US.
DES is a synthetic estrogen that was prescibed to millions of women from 1930s to 1970s to prevent miscarriages and premature birth. However, it was eventually withdrawn from use in 1971 after it was shown to cause a rare vaginal tumor.
All the four Melnick sisters had miscarriages, fertility problems and other reproductive tract problems long suspected of being caused by pre-natal exposure to DES. In 2008, one of the sisters made the link between the drug and breast cancer diagnosis after reading a study that reported an increased incidence of breast cancer in women born to mother who took DES during pregnancy.
The company has argued that there is no evidence that the Melnick sisters' mother took DES. Their mother and her doctor have both passed away.