Nightmare: Women and the Dalkon Shield

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9780025959309: Nightmare: Women and the Dalkon Shield

"Nightmare" is the chilling story of the betrayal of 2.2 million American women of child-bearing age. For four years, from 1971 to 1974, these women were fitted with the Dalkon Shield IUD (intrauterine device). Promoted by its manufacturer as "the safest and most satisfying form of contraception," the Dalkon Shield was, in fact, dangerous and defective. Since 1974, thousands of women have filed damage suits for complications ranging from debilitating pain and severe bleeding to perforated uteri, unplanned pregnancies, spontaneous miscarriages, and septic abortions. Some women delivered babies prematurely; others had babies with birth defects. Some were unable to have children at all. At least 20 women died. The women who used the Dalkon Shield had every reason to believe it was both safe and effective: the manufacturer, the A. H. Robins Company, had said so in promotional material aimed directly at potential users. The women also knew that the device could be obtained only from a doctor, like a prescription drug, which the government regulated. What most women didn't know was that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) did not regulate contraceptive devices in 1971 - and would not until 1976. Nor did they know that the claims A. H. Robins made for the efficacy of the Dalkon Shield were based on a single published medical study. "Nightmare" presents a veritable case study of corporate irresponsibility and government ineptitude. It also tells a highly dramatic and very human story. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents, "Nightmare" goes behind the headlines to the homes and hospitals, the courtrooms and boardrooms where the Dalkon Shield tragedy played out.

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From Library Journal:

Both these books chronicle the events surrounding the adverse effects of the Dalkon Shield intrauterine device. The shield, which was introduced in 1970, was used by nearly 3 million women, thousands of whom suffered infections, complicated pregnancies, and other side effects. At least 20 women died. The first claim against its manufacturer was settled in 1975, but the device was not ``recalled'' until 1984, when an estimated 600,000 women still were using it. Lord's Justice centers on the noteworthy involvement of Federal Judge Miles W. Lord throughout the decade of litigation. The authors approach the history of the case from a legal point of view, excerpting actual court transcripts and detailing personalities and events. Nightmare , a more personalized narrative, is slightly more interesting reading. Both books accomplish the task of informing the reader of the great complexity of the issue and events (inadequate testing, complications of federal law) and of the role of the device's manufacturer, who, after nearly 11,000 lawsuits and more to come, still maintains that the complications could have occurred with any IUD. Perhaps increased awareness will prevent a similar disaster. Both titles should be in public libraries; Lord's Justice is for medical and legal collections as well. Nancy B. Burrell, M.L.S., IBID Inc., Sarasota, Fla.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Susan Perry and Jim Dawson
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