Synopsis by Sandra Brennan
In 1990, Judith Helfand was helping to research a documentary on DES (diethylstilbestrol), a drug that between 1947 and 1971 was prescribed to help prevent miscarriages. After DEA studies revealed that the drug caused cancer in the off-spring of mothers who took it, DES was removed from the market. Helfand's mother took the drug and it is during her work on the film that Judith is discovered with cervical cancer and undergoes a radical hysterectomy. After her traumatic experience, Judith tried to take over the filmming of the DES film, but later decided to make her own after the money ran out. This documentary, filmed over a five year period, is the result. It follows her through sometimes painful discussions with her mother, visits to support group meetings and through her discovery that pharmaceutical companies may have known about the drug's potentially deadly side-effects in the 1940s. Worse, yet, she learns that the old research raised serious doubts as to the drug's effectiveness, something patients were not told.
DES (diethylstilbestrol), pregnancy, ethics, cancer, carcinogen, cover-up, crisis, drugs, health-care, infertility, medical-research, miscarriage, pharmacology, side-effects, technology, toxic-chemicals