Pregnancy drug DES has been back in the media spotlight lately as more and more women become aware of possible DES exposure they may have experienced in utero. DES—or diethylstilbestrol—was prescribed to pregnant women during between the 1940s and the early 1970s to help prevent miscarriage.
DES was ultimately removed from the market when studies revealed the drug’s link to certain cancers, among other potential side effects. DES risks include vaginal and cervical cancers for women whose mothers had taken diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy. Additionally, harmful DES side effects may include breast cancer, early menopause and infertility in women who had actually taken the drug.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a DES Consumer Guide that provides information about DES. The web page includes a DES Self-Assessment Guide that helps indicate whether an individual has had the potential to have been exposed to DES and the possible DES health risks if, indeed, DES exposure did occur. Please note: the DES Self-Assessment Guide cannot specifically determine whether a person was actually exposed to DES, but it does provide a guide for further discussion with a healthcare professional.
If you’re a DES daughter or think you may have been exposed to DES in utero and have experienced harmful side effects, you may also want to consider your legal options. DES victims can fill out a complaint form for a DES attorney to review here.
It’s a startling reality that DES Mothers, DES Daughters and DES Sons live with—that not many people know about or have heard about the pregnancy drug DES—diethylstilbestrol—or the harmful effects its had on both mothers who took the drug, and children who were exposed to the drug in utero.
DES was prescribed during the 1940’s to the 1970’s to expectant mothers who were at risk for miscarriage or pre-term delivery. The drug, however, was found to potentially cause clear cell adenocarcinoma (CCA), a rare form of vaginal and cervical cancer; reproductive tract structural changes such as a T-shaped uterus; complications in pregnancy such as ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and pre-term delivery; and infertility.
DES finally had its FDA approval revoked in 2000 (it had been recommended that doctors not prescibe it in 1971)—but not until potentially millions of mothers and children had been negatively affected by it. And those children are now between forty and seventy years of age or so—some of whom have lived through infertility or miscarriages of their own with out knowing that the reason could be connected to exposure to DES.
And that begs the question: why do so few people know about DES and the damage its caused? DES seems to be in the shadows of thalidomide—so much so that it’s been referred to as the ‘silent thalidomide’ in the press.
There are some possible reasons why, of course.
First, thalidomide was never approved for use in the US. DES was approved which perhaps made it appear less pernicious—after all, ‘my doctor prescribed it’.
Second, thalidomide babies could not help but evoke the collective sympathy and outrage of all who had seen a picture of an innocent newborn with severe birth defects such as missing or shortened arms or other severe disfigurement. There are no alarming pictures of DES victims—only faces; and those faces look just like you or me.
And finally, thalidomide, by its horrific nature, wove its way into popular culture—probably the most familiar evidence of this for many is the Billy Joel lyric from “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.
Diethylstilbestrol (DES), however, has potentially affected many more women in the US—and their children and perhaps their children’s children (aptly called ‘DES Third Generation’)—than thalidomide and is in some ways a much more heinous drug in that DES is the one that slipped through the proverbial cracks—the one that the FDA didn’t put the brakes on—soon enough.
Perhaps you now know about DES. But more importantly, do you know if you were on DES or exposed to it?
If you didn’t need Zantac before, you may need after reading this… Walgreens is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit over allegations the drugstore chain, in partnership with Par, a manufacturer of generic pharmaceuticals, marketed generic versions of antacid Zantac and antidepressant Prozac in dosage forms that weren’t subject to private and governmental reimbursement limitations. “As a result of this unlawful conduct, Plaintiff and other third-party payors paid two to four times more than they would have had the prescriptions been filled as written,” the lawsuit claims.
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) who filed the lawsuit, alleges in the Walgreens class action lawsuit that Walgreens and Par “engaged in at least two widespread schemes to overcharge insurance companies, self-insured employers and union health and welfare funds for the generic versions of Zantac, Prozac and other drugs.”
According to the lawsuit, “Walgreens purchased these dosage forms from Par—at a cost substantially higher than the widely prescribed dosage forms—and systematically and unlawfully filled its customers’ prescriptions with Par’s more expensive products, rather than the inexpensive dosage forms that were prescribed by physicians.”
Pharmacies cannot legally change a prescription without a physician’s express authorization; however, this class action lawsuit alleges Walgreens used expensive capsules manufactured by Par to fill prescriptions for the lower-priced tablets.
For DES Daughters, Settled but not over… In a precedent-setting ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler has this week ordered 14 pharmaceutical companies to negotiate compensation for 53 women who brought a DES class action lawsuit against the drug companies. The women alleged their breast cancer was caused by their mothers’ use of an anti-miscarriage drug, taken decades ago, called Diethylstilbestrol, also called Stilboestrol or DES.
DES was a synthetic hormone given to six million women worldwide between the 1940s and the early 1970s to prevent miscarriage. The drug was taken off the market when studies showed serious Diethylstilbestrol side effects, including a link between DES and vaginal cancer–as well as a link between DES and breast cancer, in women exposed to the medication while in the womb.
Bowler’s decision, which will have far reaching consequences, came following expert testimony from the scientific community including the Chair of Harvard’s Department of Epidemiology. The testimony included facts supporting the women’s claims that prenatal exposure to DES substantially increased risk for breast cancer among “DES Daughters” over the age of 40. The data came from information collected by the National Cancer Institute DES Follow-Up Study, and shows that DES daughters over the age of 40 are roughly twice as likely to develop breast cancer as their counterparts who were not exposed to the drug in-utero.
Manufacturers of DES include Eli Lilly and Company and E. R. Squibbs & Sons, the predecessor to Bristol-Myers Squibb. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control an estimated 10 million women in the United States have been exposed to DES—including DES mothers, DES daughters, DES sons and DES grandchildren. Attorney’s representing the plaintiffs expect there may be many more women affected by DES who will come forward as a result of this ruling.
Now it’s time for JP Morgan Chase to write a check…as they have tentatively agreed to pay $110 million to settle an overdraft fees class-action lawsuit filed by customers who allege the bank charged excessive checking overdraft fees.
The lawsuit, filed in 2009 by Andrea Luquetta of Los Angeles, claimed JPMorgan engaged in “unfair, deceptive and unconscionable” assessment and collection of overdraft fees. Her complaint also refers to the practices of Washington Mutual, which JPMorgan bought in 2008.
Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that JP Morgan Chase processed its debit card transactions unfairly so it could maximize the overdraft fees customers paid, which, according to the lawsuit, was typically between $25 and $35 per overdraft. The lawsuit remains to be approved in court, and details of the settlement terms haven’t been made readily available yet, so watch this space for updates.
OK—they’re buying—that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar!