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Settlement in DES Breast Cancer Lawsuit Reached

Filed January 10th, 2013 admin

Four sisters, who claimed their breast cancer was the result of their mother’s ingestion of the estrogen drug, DES, in the 1950s, reached a settlement with Eli Lilly and Co. The terms of the settlement—which was the first in Boston to go to trial—were not disclosed.

DES was prescribed to millions of pregnant women for three decades as a way to prevent miscarriages, premature births and other problems, said. It was pulled from the market in the early 1970s after it was linked to a rare vaginal cancer in women whose mothers used it. To date, 51 women from the Boston area have filed lawsuits against more than one dozen companies that made or marketed DES or diethylstilbestrol.

The Melnick sisters’ case settled after just two days at trial. The sisters, who grew up in Tresckow, Pennsylvania, told the jury they each developed breast cancer in their 40s. A lawyer for the sisters told the jury their mother did not take DES while pregnant with a fifth child and that daughter has not developed breast cancer, said. The Melnick sisters have dealt with a wide scope of medical issues including miscarriages, fertility problems or other reproductive tract problems long suspected of being caused by prenatal exposure to DES, said. The sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1997 and 2003 and had treatments ranging from lump-removal surgery to a full mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy, said.

The cases against the makers of DES spread much farther than Boston. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed in courts across the country alleging a connection between DES and vaginal cancer and fertility problems.

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