The Legislature finds that the effective identification, diagnosis, care and treatment of persons who have been exposed to diethylstilbestrol, commonly referred to as DES, is of paramount public importance; that DES, a synthetic estrogen-type hormone, was extensively administered between 1940 and 1970 to pregnant women threatened with miscarriage; that, subsequently, a causal relationship was found between DES and an unusual type of cervical and vaginal cancer in the daughters of persons who took the drug during pregnancy; that use of DES during pregnancy has been discontinued as a result of these findings, but that as many as 75,000 persons in New Jersey may have been exposed to the drug during its period of usage.
The Legislature further finds that the magnitude of this problem may only be realized in the next few years as the daughters of women exposed to the drug reach reproductive age, the time when such abnormalities become apparent; that the situation is compounded by the relative newness of the studies associating DES with cancer and the uncertainty over the implications of recent research; and that many physicians are not yet familiar with detection and treatment techniques because the problem has been relatively recently identified.
Therefore, the Legislature declares that it is imperative that programs be established to identify and diagnose persons who have been exposed to the drug diethylstilbestrol, to refer them to sources of care and treatment, and to provide an education program for physicians and other health care professionals so that exposed persons may benefit from the best possible diagnostic procedures and treatment.
L.1981, c. 288, s. 1, eff. Sept. 23, 1981.