Guest Post: Let’s Raise Awareness About the DES Trial by Alysia Reiner
What the heck is DES? Why you should know and what you can do to help avoid another drug disaster like it.
I first learned about DES while doing a reading of a brilliant script called Wonder Drug at the Hamptons Film Festival. I was blown away, mostly because I had never heard of this insane drug disaster before. I felt like I had to help get it made.
WONDER DRUG is about the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol), seen as a medical miracle to help women with pregnancy issues, and one of the first cash cows for pharmaceutical companies,but which was in fact a toxic, carcinogenic drug and one of the biggest medical disasters in history, affecting millions of people worldwide.
And here is the scary part: DES was sometimes even included in prescribed prenatal vitamins. Millions of women, sons, and daughters were exposed to DES and have absolutely no clue.
DES is a synthetic estrogen that was prescribed to millions of pregnant women for decades: from 1938 until 1971.in the US; and until the mid-1980s in other parts of the world. The women were told it would prevent miscarriages, premature labor, and other complications. No controlled studies were ever conducted by the drug companies to determine the effectiveness or safety of DES for use during pregnancy. As early as 1953, research revealed that DES did not work – that DES actually brought about higher rates of premature birth and infant mortality – yet DES continued to be prescribed to pregnant women for decades.
Currently proven effects of DES exposure include a rare vaginal cancer in DES Daughters; greater risk for breast cancer in DES Mothers; infertility; high-risk pregnancies; and an increased risk for breast cancer in DES Daughters after age 40. And emerging research suggests that DES health issues are extending into the next generation.
In 1971, the Food and Drug Administration warned physicians to stop prescribing DES to pregnant women.
According to the National Cancer Institute, “DES is now known to be an endocrine-disrupting chemical, one of a number of substances that interfere with the endocrine system to cause cancer, birth defects, and other developmental abnormalities.” Sound familiar? BPA anyone?
From DES Action USA: “DES was the very first endocrine disruptor to be identified. Sadly, its ill-advised use turned out to be a terrible human experiment. The exposed show unquestionably the cancers and infertility problems caused by hormones. If our experience doesn’t wake up regulators to clamp down then we don’t know what will.”
This week, first historic DES breast cancer trial (Fecho vs. Eli Lilly) begins in Boston federal court. Four incredibly courageous sisters – the Melnicks – are sharing their story and fighting for the millions of women affected by DES. So why don’t we know more about it? I don’t think Big Pharma wants us to.
SO, why am I writing this? And more importantly, what can you do?
1. Raise awareness about the trial. If you tweet, please use the hashtag #DESBreastCancerTrial. It’s everyone’s hope that the trial will raise awareness about DES and save lives. Here is a sample tweet: “@gma @thetodayshow @theviewtv @ac360 Plz cover the historic #DESBreastCancerTrial starting Jan 8 in Boston: http://tinyurl.com/aglrwnz”
2. Become a fan of WONDER DRUG on Facebook to get latest news about the trial and the progress of this film that will also help raise awareness.
Alysia Reiner is an award winning actress, producer, mother, humanitarian, and outspoken environmentalist. She will star in the film Wonder Drug which is currently in development. Learn more about Alysia at www.alysiareiner.com.