9th April 2014
Indian website promotes dangerous DES drug
Shock waves were sent through the Australian group, DES Action NSW last week when its members discovered that DES (diethylstilboestrol) is currently listed for usage in pregnancy on the Indian website Medindia. This discovery supports what the DES Action group has both feared and suspected about this cancer-causing drug since receiving anecdotal stories in the 1990s of its continued usage in pregnancy after it having been contraindicated from this usage some twenty years earlier.
DES was prescribed worldwide to over ten million pregnant women over three decades to prevent miscarriage. In the early 1970s it was linked to clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina/cervix in women exposed to DES in the womb. It is now known to cause reproductive problems in DES-exposed offspring and increased risk of breast cancer in women given DES during pregnancy and their daughters of that pregnancy. People exposed to DES during pregnancy and in the womb require lifelong specialised health care.
"In the 1990s we received word from some south-western Sydney doctors and doctors from overseas studying at University of NSW that DES was being prescribed in pregnancy in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka," says Carol Devine, DES Action NSW coordinator. "No words can describe the shock these doctors felt when learning from us for the first time about harm caused by DES, whilst having knowledge that DES was being prescribed during pregnancy in their respective home countries," says Devine.
Medical experts at a 1992 symposium in Sweden made calls for measures to address the continued usage of DES in pregnancy in many parts of the world, including East and Central Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, it is unclear what actions ensued. The DES Action NSW group is now urging women who may have been given DES during pregnancy in India or any doctors with knowledge of this usage to report this to government medical authorities in India.
The DES Action group is concerned that there may even be women or doctors from India now living in Australia who have information on this to report. The group is interested in hearing from these people.
"The apparent inertia in dealing with continued DES usage is tragic, and in retrospect it should have always been incumbent on governments worldwide to issue frequent warnings about the danger of DES," comments Devine.
More information about DES can be found at Cancer Council NSW and the contact for DES Action NSW is 02 9875 firstname.lastname@example.org
http://www.medindia.net/drugs/medical-condition/Miscarriage.htm (DES indicated for usage during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage)
http://www.medindia.net/doctors/drug_information/diethylstilbestrol.htm (DES usage is indicated in pregnancy and then its listing as contraindicated creates confusion)