12. The Dalkon Shield: A Case of Corporate Malpractice
Executives of the Dalkon Corporation and the A. H. Robins Company,
one of the largest pharmaceutical firms in the country, have made millions
of dollars from the sale of the Dalkon Shield. The Shield is an intrauterine
birth control device which was introduced by A. H. Robins Company in
December, 1970. Altogether, it was inserted into 3.3 million women in
the United States and overseas. As it turns out, the Shield. was not
sufficiently studied and tested, and as a result women have suffered
from pelvic inflammatory diseases, massive bleeding, incessant cramps,
and other serious infections. Many of the complications have resulted
in septic abortions, hysterectomies, and, as of January, 1976, seventeen
women had died. By 1975, as complaints started to mount and deaths were
reported, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began hearings on the
Dalkon Shield. Before the FDA committee made its recommendation, Robins
itself suspended sale of the Shield. Nonetheless, in November, 1976,
when the Mother Jones article appeared, some 800,000 women in the U.S.
and an estimated 500,000 in other countries were still wearing the Dalkon
Shield. The failure of the mass media to publicize the Dalkon Shield
story qualifies this for consideration as one of the "best censored"
stories of 1976.
SOURCE: MOTHER JONES, November 1976, p36; "A Case of Corporate
Malpractice" by Mark Dowie and Tracy Johnston.