[Diethylstilbestrol story]

Therapie. 2014 Jan-Feb;69(1):101-14. doi: 10.2515/therapie/2014012. Epub 2014 Apr 4.
[Article in French]


This story, that has been going on for 75 years begins with an infatuation for a "miraculous" drug supposed to, according to a theory and without scientific proof of effectiveness, reduce the pregnancy complications, especially the number of miscarriages. The next steps are painful with the discovery during the seventies, for the in utero exposed daughters, of particular cancers (clear cells adenocarcinoma) of the uterus cervix or the vagina, then during the eighties infertility and pregnancy accidents. This story is exemplary because it involves the different society actors whose roles will be analysed: health professionals, health authorities, patients associations, media and pharmaceutical companies. We will propose lessons for the future.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / prevention & control*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / chemically induced
  • Diethylstilbestrol / administration & dosage
  • Diethylstilbestrol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / chemically induced
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / chemically induced


  • Diethylstilbestrol