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Products liability cases involving dangerous drugs are continuing to provide financial relief for victims throughout the nation. In one of the most recent cases, four sisters successfully sued Eli Lilly by arguing that their breast cancer was a result of a pregnancy drug their mother consumed during the 1950s. Advocates for the cause say the suit could prove beneficial for scores of other women throughout the country who believe their cancer was caused by the hazardous prescription.

The target drug in this case is a synthetic estrogen product known as DES. That drug was prescribed to women in previous decades to prevent miscarriages and premature births. Subsequent studies in the 1970s caused the drug to be removed from the market because it was linked to a rare form of vaginal cancer. Other studies revealed that the drug did not stop the miscarriages it was designed to prevent.

A total of 51 women have so far filed suits in Boston against several of the companies that produced and marketed the drug more than 60 years ago. The four sisters’ case was the first scheduled to proceed to trial, but Eli Lilly opted to settle before the proceedings went that far. The four women developed breast cancer in their late 40s; their younger sister, who had not been exposed to DES, never developed the disease.

Even though Lilly settled the claim, lawyers for the company claim that many firms produced the drug during that era. Medical records also do not show that the sisters’ mother was prescribed DES, despite their assertions to the contrary. Attorneys for the women say that even though the company maintains its innocence, the firm realized that it was unlikely to win a jury trial in connection with the case. They report that they had amassed a significant amount of evidence against Lilly that would have prevented the company from winning the suit.

Source: My Fox NY, “Eli Lilly settles Mass. pregnancy drug-cancer case,” Denise Lavoie, Jan. 10, 2013.