Monday, January 28, 2013

Tort Reform

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by Morley Evans

Evans Consulting Services, has questioned the ability of Americans to find justice. In the U.S. legal system, lawyers can only rely on epidemiology when suing pharmaceutical companies and doctors who prescribe pharmaceutical drugs. The tort reform movement over the last 15 years has limited the ability of lawyers to use any scientific or medical evidence in court that is not backed up with published epidemiology with a relative risk of more than 2. This all started with the Daubert Opinion and many federal judges have limited this type of evidence even more. Given the general opinion in the medical community that statins are beneficial, the bar is very high, both before a jury and the judge, to prove the harmful side effects of statins that are not warned of in the product labels. Pharmaceutical companies "warn" people about "side effects" while their primary sales agents, doctors, council their patients to ignore these warnings.
According to Ernest N. Curtis, MD, in The Cholesterol Delusion, epidemiology uses evidence of dubious value: Studies purporting to link disease to diet use death certificates for mortality along with diets supposedly eaten for decades by thousands and even by millions. Death certificates are legal documents used to wrap up the deceased affairs. In the English-speaking world "heart attack" is most often entered as the cause of death. In France, something else is entered. Hence, many fewer people die of heart attack in France than in the United States. One the other side of these studies, it is suggested that there is an "American diet" which 300,000,000 Americans eat or a "Chinese diet" which a billion Chinese eat. Epidemiological studies based upon such data are ridiculous on their face. Can anyone remember what he ate last year? Did anyone accurately record it? Yet the courts have chosen to limit what they will hear to "published epidemiology" and have chosen to ignore mountains of scientific evidence that contradicts what pharmaceutical companies claim.

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