Drugs and Devices Disproportionately Endanger Women’s Health
Healthcare is one of the most divisive and hotly-debated topics in America right now. From the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act to the debate over what services should be subsidized, medical care is an issue that affects everyone.
And like any hot-button issue, it affects some more than others.
A new report published by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) shows that dangerous drugs and devices pose a disproportionately greater risk to women’s health.
The report, entitled “From Accutane to Zonite: A History of Dangerous Drugs & Devices Marketed to Women,” takes an in-depth look at some of the most harmful medical products that have been advertised and sold to women, and explores the role our justice system has played to implement safety standards and regulations. Going back as far as the 1880’s—when morphine and barbiturates were used as treatments for “hysterical women”—the report chronicles the long and disturbing history of drugs and devices that have endangered women’s health.
The report is an absolutely fascinating (albeit extremely troubling) read, with highlights that include:
- The advertising of what was essentially bleach for feminine hygiene and contraception.
- The aggressive marketing of hormone replacement therapy for women who have “outlived their ovaries,” which was later linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer.
- A copper IUD birth control device that was sold to women despite the company’s own doubts about its safety.
- The Parkinson’s disease drug prescribed as a lactation suppressant that debilitated or killed numerous women.
- Birth control that was touted as stimulating weight loss and preventing acne, which contributed to sometimes-fatal blood clots.
The report goes on to list dozens of examples of drugs and devices that have endangered women’s health, providing historical and legal context to each. Julie Braman Kane, the President of AAJ, expanded on the important role the justice system has played in holding manufacturers responsible; stating:
This timely report sheds light on the disturbing ways women have been preyed upon by corporations in the name of profit…. More than a century of gender inequality in research and unhindered corporate greed continue to put women at risk of exposure to dangerous drugs and medical devices. We must protect women’s access to justice to ensure they can end their silent suffering and hold corporations accountable when corporations refuse to put Americans’ safety first.
Even though many of the drugs and devices detailed in the report are no longer utilized, several are still being sold with seemingly no regard for the impact on women’s health. Products like Essure permanent birth control, talcum powder used for feminine hygiene, and vaginal mesh are still sold and used in the United States despite legitimate concerns for their safety.
We agree with Ms. Braman Kane’s conclusion that the legal system needs to provide support to women who have been harmed by dangerous drugs and devices, and that the victims deserve the chance to hold corporations responsible when they treat women’s health and safety as an afterthought. Wexler Wallace continues to file lawsuits against businesses and corporations who endanger the health and welfare of consumers, many of whom are featured in this report.