Screenwriter Caitlin McCarthy

  • Caitlin McCarthy received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Emerson College, which is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best graduate programs in the country. 
  • An award-winning screenwriter at international film festivals and labs, Caitlin has written two feature films: WONDER DRUG, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation script at the Hamptons Screenwriters Lab; and RESISTANCE, a script accepted into the exclusive Squaw Valley Screenwriters Program, which is made possible with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science.
  • Caitlin is also partnering on writing/creating the TV series PASS/FAIL with Jim Forbes, a multiple Emmy, ALMA, AP and Golden Mic award-winning writer, producer, correspondent and narrator; and writing/creating the TV series FREE SKATE with choreographer Michael Masionis attached.
  • In addition to screenwriting, Caitlin serves as an English teacher at an inner-city public high school. Prior to education, Caitlin worked in public relations, where she fostered relationships with the press and crafted messages for companies that were delivered worldwide.


2010 AOF Festival in Pasadena CA


Harry JellinckScreenplay Scientific Advisor P. Harry Jellinck P. Harry Jellinck obtained his undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1948 and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of London (1952 and 1954). As a graduate student for a Ph.D. in the 1950s, Jellinck worked directly under Sir Charles Dodds (creator of DES) at the Courtauld Institute of Biochemistry, Middlesex Hospital, London. After two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow (National Research Council) at McGill University and three years as a lecturer at two medical schools in London, Jellinck returned to Canada to join Dr. R.L. Noble at the newly established Cancer Research Centre, University of British Columbia. Jellinck was promoted to Full Professor before moving in 1967 to Queen’s University as Head of the Department of Biochemistry. He stepped down from this position in 1978 and became Emeritus in 1993. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Rockefeller University, since his first sabbatical in New York in 1978. Jellinck has published three textbooks, over 100 scientific papers, and is still active in research, albeit at a reduced pace.

Ralph_Dodds_headshotScript Consultant Sir Ralph Dodds Sir Ralph Dodds – only son of professor Sir (Edward) Charles Dodds (creator of DES) – was born in March 1928. He was at school in London and, from 1941 to 1946, at Winchester. He has vivid memories of the buildup of American soldiers on every highway and byway in the months to 6 June 1944 – when, almost overnight, they vanished – to Normandy. Conscripted into the army in May 1946, he went on to Sandhurst (Britain’s West Point) and served as an officer in the Middle and Far East, Germany and England until he resigned his commission in 1958. Married to Marion in 1954, and with two daughters, Ralph worked as an Insurance Broker in the City of London until retirement in 1990. Still living in London with Marion, they enjoy the frequent company of their daughters and four grandchildren – all now grown up. It is only with Caitlin McCarthy’s interest and research for the film WONDER DRUG that Ralph has recalled many small details from his childhood of the original people and places involved in the original research on Diethylstilbestrol (known in the UK as Stilbestrol).


Facts About DES

DES (diethylstilbestrol), a toxic and carcinogenic synthetic estrogen, is considered one of the world’s biggest drug disasters. It was prescribed to millions of pregnant women for decades: from 1938 until 1971 (and in a small number of cases for several years thereafter) in the United States; and until the mid-1980s in parts of Latin America, Europe, Australia, and the Third World. The currently proven effects of exposure include a rare vaginal cancer in DES Daughters; greater risk for breast cancer in DES Mothers; possible risk for testicular cancer in DES Sons; abnormal reproductive organs; infertility; high-risk pregnancies; and an increased risk for breast cancer in DES Daughters after age 40. There are a number of other suspected effects, including auto-immune disorders, but many of these effects are still awaiting further research.
For decades, Big Pharma claimed DES prevented miscarriages and problem pregnancies. It was sometimes given as an injection, but primarily it was prescribed in pill form. Never patented, DES was marketed under 200 different names, although the majority of the drug was actually produced by Eli Lilly. DES was sometimes even included in prescription prenatal vitamins.
As early as 1938, studies showed that DES promoted cancer in lab animals. But at that time, people thought animal studies only provided a hint of what could happen in humans. Also, no one knew that drugs could cross the placenta and affect a baby in utero. (Note there was a 1941 mouse study that showed mice with absent or deformed fallopian tubes. The warning signs were there for humans.)
No controlled studies were ever conducted by the drug companies to determine the effectiveness or safety of DES for use during pregnancy, even after some scientists started questioning its efficacy in the 1950s. As early as 1953, research revealed that DES did not work – that DES actually brought about higher rates of premature birth and infant mortality – yet DES continued to be prescribed to pregnant women for decades. This is because pharmaceutical companies continued to heavily promote DES use to doctors. The drug was a top moneymaker for Big Pharma.
In the late 1960s, there was an unprecedented appearance of rare cancer in young women. Clear cell cancer (CCA) – a rare cancer of the vagina – was diagnosed in an age group never before found to develop it. (Normally elderly women developed CCA.) There were eight such cases at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston alone. One of the mothers raised the question of whether her daughter’s cancer might be connected to DES exposure in utero. Doctors discovered the DES link in 1971 and published their findings in the April 1971 issue of New England Journal of Medicine. News of the cancer cases made national headlines. However, the FDA did not act on this information until public pressure forced the FDA to contraindicate DES during pregnancy in November 1971.  DES was never banned for human use.

Researchers are now investigating whether DES health issues are extending into the next generation, the so-called DES Grandchildren. As study results come in, there is growing evidence that this group has been adversely impacted by a drug prescribed to their grandmothers.

To this day, not one drug company has ever apologized or accepted responsibility for the DES tragedy. After repeated defeats in court, they have paid millions in out-of-court settlements and verdicts to DES Daughters and Sons who suffered injuries from their exposure.
On February 22, 2011, US Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and US Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) received a 3-page response from the FDA, per their joint letter about a DES apology. The FDA’s letter did not contain an official apology from the federal government for the DES drug disaster. However, it acknowledged the devastating health consequences of DES, explained FDA initiatives to prevent future drug disasters, and talked about DES as a “tragedy.”
The FDA closed the letter by writing, “We hope that our new tools for identifying, monitoring and mitigating drug risks will prevent other tragedies like those brought out by the widespread use of DES.  We are committed to providing the public with timely and accurate drug safety information and we recognize the critical responsibility that the FDA has to protect the safety of the public’s health.”
View Senator Kerry and Senator Brown’s February 24, 2011 joint press release entitled “Kerry, Brown: FDA Finally Acknowledges Prescription Drug Tragedy” HERE.
On January 19, 2012, a federal judge in Boston ordered 14 drug companies to negotiate settlements for 53 DES Daughters who claimed their breast cancer was caused by DES, the anti-miscarriage drug their mothers took decades ago. Because the mediation on April 3-4th was unsuccessful between the parties, Federal Judge Marianne B. Bowler set expedited trial for the first bellwether DES breast cancer case on January 7, 2013.
On January 8, 2013, the historic DES breast cancer trial began.  Plaintiffs the Melnick sisters (defended by Aaron Levine & Associates) took Eli Lilly to Court to hold them accountable for their breast cancer as a result of being exposed to DES in utero. On the second day of the trial, Eli Lilly offered the sisters a settlement.
Note Eli Lilly dominated the DES market (98%) and actively marketed the drug to prevent “accidents of pregnancy.” Eli Lilly even published and distributed a book for physicans to capture this market share and failed to warn them of the risks.
Click HERE to view a timeline for the DES drug disaster in the U.S.



WONDER DRUG explores DES’s tumultuous rise and fall – as well as the generations of women and families whose lives it affected.

WONDER DRUG has won awards | received nominations in over 20 international film festival screenplay competitions and labs, most notably:


Press Coverage







Boston Globe







Contact Us