Throughout modern history, women have suffered more than men from the effects of dangerous and defective drugs and medical devices. In the late 1800s, women were frequently given morphine for hysteria and methamphetamines for depression. In the early 20th century, women were encouraged to use Lysol as a douche and unofficial contraceptive aid. In the 1950s and 1960s, women were the victims of some of the worst disasters of modern health care with the thalidomide and DES scandals.
Even after consumer advocacy efforts drove changes in regulation, women continued to suffer disproportionately. From snake oil “hormone treatments” to deadly contraceptive devices, the last 150 years have been littered with dangerous drugs and devices that disproportionately affect women.