IN 1997, more than 25 years after A. H. Robins in-troduced the Dalkon Shield intrauterine device (IUD) as a safe, effective contraceptive, the last of the product liability suits against the company were headed for court. In the intervening years, at least 20 deaths and 200 miscarriages had been caused by the Dalkon Shield; 235,000 women attributed pelvic infections, often leading to infertility, to their use of the product. The Shield had been on the market in the United States for less than four years, from January 1971 to June 1974.

Marketed by A. H. Robins as a safer, more effective alternative to oral contraceptives, the Dalkon Shield was essentially an untested device with unknown effects. At the time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ...

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