A lawyer for four sisters who claimed their breast cancer was caused by a drug their mother took during pregnancy says a settlement was reached Wednesday with the pharmaceutical company that manufactured diethylstilbestrol (DES), a drug that was often prescribed to women between the 1950s and 1970s to prevent miscarriages and stillbirths.
Attorney Julie Oliver-Zhang says the deal with Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. was for an undisclosed amount. Oliver-Zhang confirms it was reached today on the second day of a trial that started yesterday in Boston federal court.
During opening statements at trial on Tuesday, a lawyer for the sisters said that Eli Lilly failed to test the drug's effect on fetuses before promoting it as a way to prevent miscarriages. Studies of drug later demonstrated that DES did not prevent miscarriages.
The sisters all developed breast cancer in their 40’s from what they claim was caused by a drug their mother took during pregnancy. They say a fifth sister did not develop breast cancer because their mother did not take DES during that pregnancy.
A lawyer for Eli Lilly had said there is no evidence that the drug causes breast cancer in the daughters of women who took it, or that the mother of the four sisters took it. The mother is deceased, as is her doctor, and no medical records exist for her, Eli Lilly’s attorney said.
There are 51 pending cases across the U.S. involving similar claims against more than a dozen makers and marketers of DES, but the four sisters' case was the first to go to trial.