Lilly May Not Challenge Jury’s Findings in DES Exposure Case

On February 3, 2012, Eli Lilly filed a Motion for Reconsideration, asking the Judge to reconsider and reverse her prior decision denying their Daubert motion and ordering both parties to mediate.

A Daubert motion, named after the outcome of the 1993 Supreme Court case Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., is a motion raised to the judge which excludes the testimony of an expert witness who does not possess the requisite level of expertise. This motion, however, was denied sua sponte, meaning without prompting from the other party. Eli Lilly, in filing this Motion for Reconsideration, is stating that the court has overlooked or misunderstood the events which led to the exclusion of expert witness testimony. The Judge scheduled mediation planning and organization between the parties, which occurred on April 3-4th, and was unsuccessful.

The Fecho sisters are a family of four DES daughters (daughters of women who were given DES while pregnant) from Pennsylvania, and their lawsuit will be the first DES breast cancer case to be tried in court, next January 7, 2013.

DES, or Diethylstilbestrol, is a synthetic form of estrogen, and was prescribed to pregnant women for thirty years, starting in 1940, to prevent complications with pregnancy. Unfortunately, nobody could predict the potentially life-threatening side effects.

The four Fecho sisters were all exposed to DES while in utero, all suffered infertility, as well as many signature DES reproductive tract abnormalities. In addition, all four of these sisters contracted breast cancer on or before age 50. The eldest, fifth sister, who is not part of this lawsuit, was not exposed to DES. She was able to have a child of her own and has not contracted breast cancer.

During their trial, the DES victims plan to present scientific evidence from the National Cancer Institute, the New England Journal of Medicine, and from experts from Harvard and other prestigious institutions around the world to prove that prenatal DES exposure increases the risk of breast cancer.

DES was given in the 1950s to early 1970s, thinking it would help prevent miscarriages. It was proven to be carcinogenic to the unborn fetus. It is not thought that DES had any effect in the prevention of miscarriages.  The pharmaceutical companies, Eli Lilly and Bristol Myer-Squibb, failed to test or warn of the potential dangers of DES or its known carcinogenic effects on the fetus.

These drug companies withheld vital information during its approval for pregnancy use from the FDA. Today, it is known that DES daughters who were exposed in utero are at an increased risk for clear-cell adenocarcinoma of the cervix, they suffer infertility, subfertility, as well as breast cancer. It is so important that DES daughters obtain yearly mammograms and remain under their doctor’s care. These DES daughters should check with their doctors with regard to the avoidance of female hormones (birth control pills or hormone replacement) to reduce risk of cancers. Early detection of breast cancer can save the lives of DES daughters and it is so important that they are vigilant about their preventive health.

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