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DES is created as first synthetic estrogen by Sir E. Charles Dodds in England.
French medical journal reports that DES caused mammary tumors in male mice.

DES formally granted FDA approval for use as a miscarriage preventative.

Harvard husband and wife team of physician and biochemist George and Olive Smith publish report extolling use of high doses of DES during pregnancy. This report launches wide-scale use of DES.

DES proven ineffective when William Dieckmann, M.D., of University of Chicago’s Lying-In Hospital conducts first controlled, randomized, double-blind study on use of DES during pregnancy. Published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the research reveals women receiving DES suffered a higher rate of miscarriages, yet DES continued to be prescribed to women until 1971. (Blame pharmaceutical companies for heavily promoting DES use to doctors)
U.S. Agriculture Department bans DES as a growth stimulant for chickens and lambs after high DES levels in these animals produced side effects, such as male breast growth in humans.

Arthur Herbst, M.D. et al publish report in New England Journal of Medicine linking DES exposure before birth, to a rare vaginal cancer in girls and young women - clear cell adenocarcinoma.

On the basis of this study the FDA issues a Drug Bulletin to physicians, stating that DES is contra-indicated for use in pregnant women. The FDA did not ban DES, but only urged doctors to stop prescribing it for their pregnant patients. Most, but not all, stopped.

Researchers study the effects of DES on DES Daughters and find significant abnormalities in the reproductive organs of these women, which often result in infertility or serious problems in pregnancy.

National Cancer Institute (NCI) begins DES-Adenosis (DESAD) project, the first government-sponsored study designed to “assess the magnitude and severity of the health hazard to DES-exposed female offspring.”

First consumer information regarding DES exposure published by independent grassroots groups in Berkeley, CA and Cambridge, MA.

Berkeley, CA group joined forces with the Coalition for the Medical Rights of Women, in San Francisco.


Three DES Daughters and one DES Mother are appointed to the CA Dept. of Health Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on DES.


California Health Department holds health care provider workshops in San Francisco and Los Angeles. DES leaflets are sent to every physician in CA.

First meeting of DES grassroots groups from CA, CT, IL, MA, NJ, NY, PA and Wash, DC. It is decided to unite as a national organization under the name of DES Action.


DES Action USA is founded, and incorporated, as the national non-profit consumer group for people exposed to DES. Brochures, flyers and posters, like this one, featuring Co-founder Pat Cody, her husband Fred and daughter Martha, helped get out important information.

DES Action was included in the design and carrying out of a California statewide pilot project of DES public information.

Secretary of the Department of Health, Education & Welfare, Joseph Califano, convenes the National DES Task Force. It was charged with reviewing all aspects of the DES problem and with making recommendations for research and health care of the exposed.

The National DES Task Force issues physician advisory, recommending doctors review their records and notify patie


First successful legal trial over DES injuries. Joyce Bichler, 25-year old cancer survivor, is awarded half a million dollars in case against Eli Lilly.

DES Action in San Francisco receives a grant from MS Foundation to hire a program director.

DES Action affiliate group in Washington DC receives a grant from the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation to fund a public and physician education program.

U.S. Agriculture Dept. banned DES use in cattle feed. It took effect a year later.


DES banned in cattle feed.

CA legislature funds a DES public and physician education program. DES Action in San Francisco selected to create the public education materials and hold workshops. As part of this state contract DES Action publishes a 56-page manual, "Community Organizing for Health," along with a 15-minute slide/tape show developed for health care providers.

CBS-TV's "Lou Grant Show" features a DES storyline that presented the DES issue to a national audience.

Planning began for first national meeting of 19 DES Action Affiliates - held in 1981.


First national meeting of 19 DES Action affiliates is held in San Francisco.

The first DES Public Service Announcement airs on national television and radio, narrated by Linda Kelsey, of CBS's "Lou Grant Show."


As of this year, DES Action members in at least eight states (CA, FL, IL, ME, MD, MA, MN, NY) had successfully advocated for legislation prohibiting insurance discrimination against those exposed to DES. Legislation additionally may have included statewide education programs and screening centers.

DES Action secures grant support from the L.J. & Mary C. Skaggs Foundation of California, as well as the first of several annual grants from the J. Aron Foundation of NY.

The DES Cancer Network is formed.


First national DES Awareness Week held in April in 29 states.

Launch of two-year project of DES Action/San Francisco to demonstrate consumer-physician cooperation for improving care, and providing support and information for DES Daughters.

DES Action publishes "Working Together: A Manual for Consumer Groups Working with Medical Professionals.


DES Action USA efforts result in President Reagan's Proclamation of DES Awarenness Week as April 21-27, 1985 for the entire country.

DES Action sends a representative to the UN Decade for Women Conference in Kenya where she gives workshops and distributes DES pamphlets in Arabic, Swahili, Dutch, Spanish, French and English.


Results from the DES Action USA Health History Survey, conducted in 1984, are finalized and released - showing higher ocurrences of arthritis, asthma and Lupus than in the general population. This anecdotal survey helped guide NIH researchers to further investigate these areas of concern.

First international DES meeting held in Toronto, Canada.

Following a six-year effort by DES Action and the DES Cancer Network, New York State changes its Product Liability laws regarding statute of liminations for filing lawsuits.

Ohio Health Department is convinced to run a public education program regarding DES exposure.

Grants from the San Francisco law firm, Hersh & Hersh, along with the Sumner T. McKnight Foundation make possible installation of a computer system in the DES Action office, as well as the sponsoring of a research conference in Minneapolis.

DES Action sponsors an international consumer gathering, the "DES Research Symposium: Looking Back, Looking Forward," in Minneapolis.
DES Action develops medical and nursing school ciurriculum for national distribution.
After years of grassroots organizing led by DES Action USA, Congress passes the first federal legislation (HR 4178) mandating a national program of research, outreach and education about DES. Funding was provided to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for a combined long-term cohort research project, the DES Follow-up Study.
National Cancer Institute (NCI) announces grants for a program of public and health care provider education about DES.
National Cancer Institute establishes committee to study non-cancer effects resulting from DES exposure; consumer education booklets published by NCI.
DES Action takes the steam out of an awards banquet funded by Eli Lilly and hosted by the "Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Research," a sham front for Big Pharma. Our protests led Senator Olympia Snow and Representatives Pat Shroeder and Henry Waxman to publicly decline their honors.

Congress passes legislation authorizing renewed funding for DES research and education.

PBS-TV airs cancer daughter Judith Helfand's documentary A Healthy Baby Girl, to show the personal experience of dealing with DES-linked cancer.

DES Action sponsors a symposium in Andover, MA, "Pills and Potions: reproductive Technologies, Menopause and our Future."

Eli Lilly stops manufacturing DES for human use. In 2000 the company asks the FDA to withdraw approval of diethylstilbestrol for humans. and the FDA complies.

DES Research Conference, in Washington DC, sponsored by National Institutes of Health

International Colloquium held in Washington DC to recognize 30-years of DES Discovery, Education and Science (1971-2001).

Moving photo essay published by cancer daughter Margaret Lee Braun, DES Stories: Faces and Voices of People Exposed to Diethylstilbestrol - putting a human face on the tragedy.

DES Action joins a consumer advocacy committee, Public Interest Partners, at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

CDC’s DES Update launches national education effort with website and publications to educate DES-exposed individuals and their health care providers.
DES Action USA establishes online support group for DES Daughters.
The journal, Cancer Epidemiology, August 2006, publishes National Cancer Institute DES Follow-up Study Researcher Julie Palmer's finding that DES Daughters are nearly two times more likely to develop breast cancer, after age 40, than unexposed women.

The DES grassroots advocacy story was published in Pat Cody's book, DES Voices: From Anger to Action.

DES Action UA celebrated 30 years of action. We've kept a focus on DES, our members are loyal and support our work, and much more research needs to be done.

U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right of individuals to sue drug companies and recover damages. DES Action USA filed an Amicus Brief in Wyeth v. Levine claiming individuals should be able to file lawsuits, especially if the FDA failed to rigorously evaluate a drug's safety - as with DES.
National Cancer Institute renews commitment to DES ressearch for an additional five years.
The October 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine runs an article by National Cancer Institute researcher Robert Hoover listing Twelve Adverse Health Impacts for DES Daughters. It was read by doctors around the country and garnered numerous news media stories regarding DES exposure.

In a precedent setting decision on Jan. 19, Federal Judge Marianne Bowler, in Boston, ordered 14 drug companies to negotiate settlements with 53 DES Daughters who brought suit claiming their breast cancers were caused by prenatal DES exposure. Mediation talks in April were unsuccessful between the DES Daughter plaintiffs and drug makers so the Judge scheduled January, 2013 for this product liability case to go to trial.

DES Action USA undertakes its second Health History Survey with results expected to be released in 2013.


Victory for DES Daughters - Eli Lilly settles the DES Breast Cancer case (1/9/13) on day two of trial - Fecho v. Eli Lilly. Attorney Aaron Levine describes the settlement as substantial. Sadly, Lilly did not have to admit fault. Negotiations began immediately to settle the remaining DES breast cancer cases that were initially filed so they did not go to trial.


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