Sisters settle in pregnancy drug suit
BOSTON — Four sisters who claimed in a lawsuit their breast cancer was caused by synthetic estrogen their mother took during pregnancy in the 1950s have reached a settlement with the drug company Eli Lilly and Co., a lawyer for the sisters said Wednesday.
Attorney Julie Oliver-Zhang said the settlement, for an undisclosed amount, was reached on the second day of a trial in U.S. District Court in Boston. They had not specified damages sought in the lawsuit.
Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
The sisters' case was the first to go to trial out of scores of similar claims filed in Boston and around the country. A total of 51 women have lawsuits pending in U.S. District Court in Boston against more than a dozen companies that made or marketed the drug.
DES, or diethylstilbestrol, was prescribed to millions of pregnant women over three decades to prevent miscarriages, premature births and other problems. It was taken off the market in the early 1970s because it was linked to a rare vaginal cancer in women whose mothers used DES.
Studies later showed the drug did not prevent miscarriages.
In his opening trial statement Tuesday, Aaron Levine, another lawyer for the sisters, said Eli Lilly failed to test the drug's effect on fetuses before promoting it as a way to prevent miscarriages.
James Dillon, a lawyer for Eli Lilly, told the jury there is no evidence the drug causes breast cancer in the daughters of women who took it. He also said no medical records show the mother of the four women in the Boston case took DES, or that if she did take it, that it was made by Eli Lilly.
DES was not patented and was made by many companies.
The Melnick sisters, who grew up in Tresckow in Carbon County, say they all developed breast cancer in their 40s because their mother took DES while pregnant.
Levine told the jury that the mother did not take DES while pregnant with a fifth sister, and that sister has not developed breast cancer.
The four Melnick sisters had miscarriages, fertility problems or other reproductive tract problems long suspected of being caused by prenatal exposure to DES. They were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1997 and 2003 and had treatments ranging from lump-removal surgery to a full mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- National Guard reinforcements contain damage in Ferguson
- Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg has surgery for coronary blockage
- 2 FBI agents shot, wounded in St. Louis area
- Supreme Court will hear challenge to EPA’s power-plant rules
- Convenience stores, movie theaters, amusement parks to fall under new FDA nutrition labeling rule
- Brown family blasts prosecutor; Wilson speaks
- United Mine Workers responds to strike complaint
- Illegals protected by Obama in line for Social Security, Medicare, other benefits
- Premiums to rise for Obamacare’s most popular plans
- Florida high school prostitution ring busted
- Ferguson grand jury focused on fatal ‘tussle’