Policy Forum

Lessons from Litigation over Silicone Breast Implants: A Call for Activism by Scientists

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Science  06 Jun 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5318, pp. 1524-1525
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5318.1524

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Abstract

In ongoing litigation to determine whether silicone breast implants cause autoimmune disease, the question of what constitutes good science is being addressed by courts, and the answer has implications for approximately $50 billion in settlements. A federal court recently used neutral scientific advisers in excluding the admissibility of the “expert” opinion that implants cause systemic disease. The lesson from this litigation paradigm is that scientists should actively ensure that neutral, reliable scientific expertise is available to the court.

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