ELI LILLY SETTLES WITH MELNICK SISTERS OVER PREGNANCY DRUG DES

Jan 10, 2013

By Jane Brown

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A settlement in a Massachusetts lawsuit by four sisters who say their breast cancer was caused by a drug their mother took during pregnancy in the 1950s is being praised by other women who have brought scores of similar claims.

Eli Lilly reached an undisclosed financial settlement yesterday in a case brought by the Melnick sisters. They believe their breast cancer was caused by a synthetic estrogen known as DES, which was prescribed to millions of women from the late 1930s to early 1970s to prevent miscarriages.  Their mother did not take the drug while pregnant for a fifth sister, who has not had breast cancer.

The sisters’ case was the first to go to trial out of dozens filed across the United States.

Eli Lilly says it believes its medication “did not cause the conditions alleged in this lawsuit,” but the settlement was in its best interest.  DES was also prescribed to women in Canada until the early 70s as a remedy to prevent miscarriages.  The drug was later determined to being ineffective at preventing miscarriages.

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