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.