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For decades, a small group of plaintiffs lawyers have been pressing claims against companies that made and sold a synthetic estrogen known as diethylstilbestrol, or DES, which was prescribed to millions of pregnant women to ward off premature births and miscarriages from 1948 to 1971. But after it was linked to a rare vaginal cancer in women whose mothers used it, DES was taken off the market. Studies have since shown that DES didn’t prevent miscarriages, and exposure to the drug in utero has been associated with numerous other illnesses including infertility and breast cancer.

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