The Bitterest Pill

How Drug Companies Fail to Protect Women and How Lawsuits Save Their Lives

Click to download the whole study.

Women across the country have suffered tremendously as a result of defective and dangerous drugs and medical devices. History shows that many FDA-approved drugs and devices that have caused some of the most serious injuries and death have been marketed specifically for women. This is largely due to the number of products routinely prescribed to otherwise healthy women to control some aspect of their reproductive system. In addition, some drugs have had a disproportionate impact on pregnant women and their children.

Many drugs and devices were made safer only after women and their families filed lawsuits against those responsible. Sometimes, companies that have been hit with large verdicts or settlements act immediately to change their unsafe product or practice. Lawsuits also have had a tremendously beneficial role spurring medical research and alerting the public – and ultimately pressuring regulators – to act on larger health risks and problems. As a result, the lives of countless other women have been saved.

In addition, unlike the regulatory scheme, which provides no direct benefit to victims, civil cases hold companies directly accountable to those whom they have hurt, and provide their victims with compensation to help rebuild their lives. Drug company immunity would remove the most significant and effective financial consequence to a company for choosing to keep a dangerous drug or device on the market.

DES was a synthetic estrogen approved by the FDA to prevent miscarriages. DES did not work but instead caused cancer, infertility and other serious physical problems for the women who took it, and the children they carried. For almost two decades after the drug was proven ineffective, manufacturers continued to push the drug and expose hundreds of thousands of women and their offspring to risk. Until women started bringing lawsuits, many DES exposed women did not know about the risks they faced.

  • Download the Center for Justice & Democracy whole study.
  • See more DES books on this Flickr album.
DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

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