The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides us with the security and protection of our public health assuring that certain drugs are safe to use. But how much has the FDA reinforced their decisions to allow certain medications to be used in the United States?
In 1938, the FDA passed a hazardous drug named Diethylstilbestrol, commonly known as DES. The phycisian that first introduced this drug assured millions of women that they would have a healthy nine month pregnancy and less probabilities for a miscarriage to occur. But was this scientifically proven to be true? Unfortunately, that was not the case and situations became dangerous, even life threatening for millions of women along with their fetuses.
For as long as humanity has existed, there has always been cases where many women are infertile, meaning that they are not able to reproduce. In the early 1900’s, many women became unhappy due to not being able to produce offspring. It was even said that it was a psychological state that produced unhappy thoughts resulting in infertility and causes of low estrogen. In the case of a 35-year-old woman named Sylvia, psychoanalysis took place. This was a therapy that supposedly proved to be effective in the case of Sylvia by helping her become fertile and her being able to reproduce (95-96). But as time progressed, many doctors soon began to think that low estrogen was the cause to infertility and many miscarriages, which introduced Diethylstilbestrol.
“We should always be humbled when we think of what we do not know about the female reproductive system.” (134)
With the introduction of Diethylstilbestrol, soon began to arise female reproductive health problems. Many women were receiving such a big dose of estrogen in a day which was equivalent to a nine month pregnancy stock. What DES was supposed to achieve was the prevention of miscarriages, but instead it not only not decreased miscarriages, it also harmed the fetus and caused a rare but deadly form of vaginal cancer. Also, thousands of DES offsprings became infertile (129).
“Mothers who thought they did everything they could to maintain a healthy pregnancy were creating girls who would never have the same experience.” (130)
As DES’ popularity kept growing, a few doctors warned about the cancer-causing drug but as many women read positive reviews the drug was not abandoned. As a result, the pill being approved led to 6.5 million American women to take it in the 1960’s. This DES pill known as the desPlex was even said that babies were bigger and healthier, again resulting to be high in market. But this drug became so glorified that potential consequesces were not considered amongst women.
Grant Chemical Company advertisement for desPlex
Today, unfortunately there is still no medication to prevent miscarriages. But as technology and medicine progresses, necessary medications for pregnant women have proven to be much safer for both the mother and the fetus. Now that the FDA cautiously approves medications that will not harm the public health.
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