DES Daughter Petitions Eli Lilly to “Fess Up on DES”

DES daughter Patricia Royall

The DES breast cancer trial against drug manufacturer Eli Lilly was a momentous event for Maine DES daughter Patricia Royall, who was in the Boston courtroom on the first day. “The trial was amazing,” she says, “and I was so glad I took the time to go hear opening remarks and the first expert witness, Dr. Hans Olov-Adami, a well known, published, epidemiologist from Harvard. There were about 20 or so DES daughters there.”

Opening remarks
Aaron Levine was one of the lawyers representing four sisters, whose case was considered a bellwether for several more pending cases, including one filed by Patricia. Levine began his opening remarks by stating, ” … they have come into court to say that we suffered breast cancer because you were negligent, you failed to test, you failed to warn, you failed to evaluate, you failed to put the right literature out — and because of that — and your promotion of this drug without testing, we have suffered breast cancer.”

Eli Lilly’s lawyer, James Dillon, countered by stating that, ” … diethylstilbestrol [DES] does not cause breast cancer in the daughters of women who took it and did not cause breast cancer in these women.”

Settled out of court
During a break on the second day of the trial, Eli Lilly offered an undisclosed settlement to the four sisters and they accepted. While a victory for the sisters, Patricia says it is somewhat unsettling for her and other women whose trials are pending. “We’re hoping Lilly will honor their promise (also so-ordered by Judge Marianne Bowler to mediate with ‘all due dispatch’ because of the age and the failing health of the plaintiffs) to settle the rest of these cases in good faith.”

Patricia is also upset that people didn’t get to hear all the evidence. In a statement released after the settlement was announced, Eli Lilly said, “While we continue to believe that Lilly’s medication did not cause the conditions ­alleged in the lawsuit, we believe the settlement is in the best interest of the company.”

“The science that DES causes breast cancer is well-established, and it must be embarrassing to Lilly to continue to say that DES does not cause cancer,” says Patricia. “They have spent millions settling lawsuits and if they weren’t guilty, than why not stay and fight to the finish?”

DES petition drive
Not willing to sit back and do nothing, Patricia started a petition drive demanding Eli Lilly’s CEO to “fess up” about DES. She hopes to get 5,000 signatures and already, she has more than 250 from around the world.

“My goal,” she says, “is to create a larger awareness of DES and its long-term side effects; reach out to women and men who have been exposed to DES; and send a strong message to Eli Lilly that we’re not giving up or going away. They need to acknowledge that they have harmed millions of people and they need to be held accountable to their original agreement to deal in good faith with the rest of the plaintiffs.”

To sign the petition, click on Eli Lilly — Fess Up on DES!
The Twitter hashtag #keeplillyhonest is also trending.

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.