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    Posted February 24, 2011 by
    Boston, Massachusetts
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    DES (Diethylstilbestrol) Tragedy: Senators Kerry & Brown


    Kerry, Brown: FDA  Finally Recognizes Prescription Drug Tragedy

    BOSTON – Forty years  after doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital first discovered a link between  the drug Diethylstilbestrol (DES) and a rare form of cancer, the FDA has sent a letter  to Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown acknowledging that the widespread  prescription of DES was a tragedy with devastating health consequences.  The letter also outlines FDA’s new initiatives to prevent similar drug disasters  in the future. This letter comes in response to a  letter the Senators sent to FDA Commissioner Margaret Ann Hamburg last October on behalf of constituents affected by  DES.

    “The FDA is the first of  defense for patients nationwide who need to know the medicines they use are  safe, and it’s important that today they’ve recognized the heartbreaking  consequences that DES had for millions of people over the thirty years it was  deemed safe.”

    “The FDA’s  acknowledgement of the devastating impact DES has had on patients across the  country is long overdue, and I am pleased to hear of their admission,” said Sen.  Brown

    Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was a  synthetic estrogen that was developed to supplement a woman's natural estrogen  production. Originally prescribed by physicians in 1938 for women who  experienced miscarriages or premature deliveries, DES was considered safe and  effective for both mother and developing baby until the New England Journal  of Medicine published a report in 1971 suggesting a link between DES use by  pregnant women and a rare vaginal cancer in female offspring.

    The Food  and Drug Administration (FDA) subsequently issued a Drug Bulletin to physicians  advising them to discontinue prescribing DES in pregnant women. According to the  Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 5-10 million persons were  exposed to DES between 1938-1971, including pregnant women and the children born  from those pregnancies.

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