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Jury selection to start in Eli Lilly suit

Four sisters who suspect their breast cancer diagnoses are linked to a drug their mother took while she was pregnant in the 1950s are suing Eli Lilly and Co., a former maker of diethylstilbestrol.

Jury selection is set to begin in federal court in Boston on Friday. It will be one of the first of scores of such claims around the US to go to trial.

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The Melnick sisters are seeking unspecified damages.

The companies that made or marketed the drug argue that no firm link has been established between breast cancer and DES, a synthetic estrogen that was prescribed to millions of women from the 1930s to 1970s to prevent miscarriage, premature births, and other problems.

It was pulled from the market after being linked to a rare vaginal cancer in women whose mothers used DES. And studies showed the drug did not prevent miscarriages.

Eli Lilly say in court documents that there is no evidence the women’s mother took DES. She and her doctor are dead, and Eli Lilly says there are no medical records documenting her treatment.

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