The Science Connecting Talcum Powder And Ovarian Cancer

On Monday, a jury in Missouri hit Johnson & Johnson with a $55 million verdict in favor of a woman who developed ovarian cancer after decades of using talc baby powder in her vaginal area as part of her normal routine. Younger readers might find this practice unusual, but this was commonly recommended and encouraged through advertisements with slogans like, “just a sprinkle a day keeps odor away.” To this day, Johnson & Johnson still doesn’t warn against use in the vaginal area, and instead continues to encourage adults to use it all over their bodies, because it “gives a ... Continue Reading

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When Will Hospitals Learn How To Use Heparin?

Heparin is one of the most basic medicines used in medicine, the primary anticoagulant used by hospitals, which is why it’s part of the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.   But anticoagulants are so powerful that they are used as rat poison. Anticoagulants make a patient 10 times more likely to develop intracerebral hemorrhage, and thus all of them -- Heparin, Coumadin, warfarin -- have to be used with the utmost caution.   The Legal Intelligencer reported yesterday:   A Philadelphia jury has hit the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with a $44.1 million verdict for failing ... Continue Reading

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Pennsylvania Workers Comp Doesn’t Need Evidence-Based Medicine (Not Like This)

  “Evidence-based medical treatment guidelines” sounds like such a good idea. Who would want medical treatment that wasn’t based on evidence?   The problem is in the details. Way back in 1996, when “evidence-based medicine” was coming to the fore, the originators of the concept went out of their way to say “evidence-based medicine is not cookbook medicine,” and that it can “never replace individual clinical expertise and it is this expertise that decides whether the external evidence applies to the individual patient at all, and if so, how it should be integrated in a clinical decision.”   Fast-forward twenty years, ... Continue Reading

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The Problems With Court-Appointed “Independent” Experts

Over at The Green Bag, Judge Richard Posner published "What Is Obviously Wrong With the Federal Judiciary, Yet Eminently Curable, Part I." The article is quintessential Posner: concise, expansive, forceful, and packed with good and bad ideas with minimal supporting citations.   Let’s focus today on his arguments about Federal Rule of Evidence 706:   A big problem with jury trials is that often they involve technological or commercial issues that few jurors understand (not that many judges understand them either) and that the lawyers and witnesses are unable or unwilling to dumb down to a level that the jurors ... Continue Reading

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When Dad Is A Trial Lawyer

An article on CNN last week began:   As a parent, this is another story that is impossible to comprehend: A 7-year-old girl is now dead after the bouncy castle she was playing on blew away at an Easter fair in Essex, England.   It is believed the castle was swept away by a gust of wind. The girl, Summer Grant, was taken to a local hospital and died of multiple injuries several hours later. A 24-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence, according to the Essex police on its Facebook ... Continue Reading

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Statistical Significance Has No Place In A Daubert Analysis

Back in July 2014, I wrote a post about the misuse of “statistical significance” by defendants and courts trying to apply the Daubert standard to scientific evidence. As I wrote,   It’s true that researchers typically use statistical formulas to calculate a “95% confidence interval” — or, as they say in the jargon of statistics, “p < 0.05” — but this isn’t really a scientifically-derived standard. There’s no natural law or empirical evidence which tells us that “95%” is the right number to pick to call something “statistically significant.” The number “1 in 20” was pulled out of thin air ... Continue Reading

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“Pharmaceuticals: FDA Approved Warning Labels and Pre-emption”

At the invitation of the George Mason University's Law & Economics Center, I recently went to Washington D.C. to debate Ana Reyes of Williams & Connolly on the subject of preemption in drug injury lawsuits. The video is available here.   I stated many facts during the discussion, and below are my sources for them. For information about the Antonio Benedi case, here's the NYTimes, ABCNews, and the Fourth Circuit opinion affirming the judgment. In discussing how the FDA works in practice, I said: Studies have shown only 10% of new drugs are superior to medicines already available. Researchers at Harvard and Boston ... Continue Reading

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The Jurisdiction Problem In Elsevier’s Lawsuit Against Sci-Hub

The science media has blown up recently over Sci-Hub, dubbed “the Pirate Bay of the science world.” Here’s a BigThink article, a ScienceAlert article, and an Atlantic article. Sci-Hub is, to put it mildly, the greatest open repository of scientific papers in the history of the world. There’s just a small problem: those papers are almost all copyrighted, and the whole purpose of Sci-Hub is to circumvent paying the copyright holder.   Unsurprisingly, Elsevier, the juggernaut scientific journal publisher, has sued the proprietor of Sci-Hub, neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan, for running the database. Elsevier says in their complaint that they host ... Continue Reading

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The Doctors Company’s Dubious Medical Malpractice Statistics

This morning, MedPage Today — which should know better — began their “Morning Break” with this description and link: An analysis of closed claim data from The Doctors Company suggests that physicians spend about 10% of their professional life dealing with malpractice claims, but most of those claims are closed with no money paid to the plaintiff. Goodness! That sounds incredible. Turns out, it is incredible. In fact, it’s false. The linked post by “The Doctors Company” at The Doctor Weighs In says: The average physician spends over 10 percent of his or her career consumed in defense of an ... Continue Reading

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The Lawyer Who Was Too Smart And Honest For Politics

[Update: The Hamilton County Democratic Party executive committee wisely voted against censuring Ben Lindy. Apparently Lindy was asked, "Why did the story end up in the Washington Post?" That's easy: the best way to 'go viral' is to do something really stupid.]   Ben Lindy is the kind of person we all hope goes into politics: he grew up in Cincinnati, went straight from Cincinnati public school to Yale, then taught through Teach for America, then worked in the DC Public Schools system, then went to Yale Law, and then returned to Ohio to establish Teach for America’s office in Cincinnati. Now he’s ... Continue Reading

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