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Contraceptive RiskThe FDA, Depo-Provera, and the Politics of Experimental Medicine$
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William Green

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479876990

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479876990.001.0001

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Contraceptive Chaos

Contraceptive Chaos

Unapproved Use and Upjohn v. MacMurdo

(p.83) 3 Contraceptive Chaos
Contraceptive Risk

William Green

NYU Press

Judith Weisz's story of the politics of drug risk management now turns from the national controversy over Depo-Provera to join Anne MacMurdo's story of the drug’s unapproved contraceptive use and the personal risks faced by women. The FDA’s limited authority over Upjohn's marketing practices and over physicians, mental health facilities, and family planning clinics nationwide, permitted the drug to be prescribed for contraception without the informed consent of women. Unlike Judith Weisz's story of Depo-Provera's long-term risk of cancer, Anne MacMurdo's concerns the drug's short-term side effects, such as excessive menstrual bleeding, depression, and weight gain. Her story began when an injection of the drug in 1974 was followed by a hysterectomy to stop her continuous bleeding. Shebrought a products liability suit against Upjohn, but her case was not tried until 1986, when a Florida jury awarded her $186,000, a verdict reversed on appeal by the state supreme court. Her story exposes the failure of Upjohn and physicians to manage the drug's risk, the limited access of women, often poor white women and women of color, to a legal remedy, the risk management role of courts, and the limited ability of state civil law to address the drug's short-term side effects.

Keywords:   drug marketing, family planning, informed consent, menstrual bleeding, products liability, unapproved drug use

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