Call for compensation over pregnancy drug

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Women whose mothers were prescribed the common pregnancy drug DES will be encouraged to seek compensation as it has been linked to certain cancers.

The drug, whose full name is diethylstilboestrol, was widely prescribed between 1938 and 1971 in the false belief it could help reduce the risk of miscarriage.

But in 1971 researchers found a link between DES and vaginal cancer in daughters of the women given the medicine. It has also been linked to an increased risk of breast and cervical cancer in such women.

Washington-based lawyer Aaron Levine is expected to travel to the UK shortly to organise a hunt for the so-called “DES daughters” who have been unable to claim compensation in the British courts. Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have been exposed to the drug.

Mr Levine, who has represented women in the US who have been affected by it, told the Independent on Sunday the drug was “quackery”. “It didn’t do anything positive for anyone and didn’t help anyone’s pregnancy.”

The Department of Health suggested any compensation awarded would be a matter for the drug companies and not the Government.

The NHS says the risk of vaginal cancer associated with using diethylstilbestrol is small.