Monday, November 20, 2006

FDA Approves Silicone Breast Implants

From a November 18th Wall Street Journal article, FDA Approves Silicone Breast Implants,
Nearly 15 years after banning silicone breast implants in most cases, the Food and Drug Administration approved revamped versions at a time of soaring demand for cosmetic procedures.

Many of the original marketers, who lost billions of dollars in lawsuits related to allegedly flawed silicone implants, are long out of the business. Still, the FDA's approval late Friday will accelerate a push into aesthetic medicine by two companies that are heirs to the U.S. breast-implant business: Allergan Inc. and Mentor Corp.

Dow Corning Corp., a subsidiary of my company, The Dow Chemical Company, was one of those "original marketers". Forced into bankruptcy by class action lawsuits backed by little more than arbitrary claims, and junk science, Dow Corning finally settled for some $13 billion to avoid litigation that it probably would have only partially won, even though it had solid science behind its case.

Such is today's environment when class action against large corporations need little more than accusations and a sympathetic jury to find in their favor. With the conventional wisdom predisposed to be suspicious of big business rather than respectful of it, its no wonder. The implant business at Corning was a small business generating little revenue, and Corning, in the end, did nothing wrong. Vindication comes a decade too late.


softwareNerd said...

What's really required is a return to a better philosophy of law. There are some modern theorists who push for a "deep pockets" approach, where the party with the deep pockets pays for damages. It isn't that blatant, but that's what it amounts to.

Meanwhile, though this reversal won't help DOW, hopefully it will get some legal theorists thinking harder about the nature of proof and justice. And, in the medium-term, capping certain categories of legal awards might be the way to go -- even though that's not what one wants in the longer term.

Kendall J said...

So right you are SN. The fact that implants are now considered safe does nothing to assure that this won't happen again, and what is needed is an objective concept of law.

The deep pockets approach is shockingly horrific (as I work for a "deep pocket") Almost a "from him with the deepest pockets to him with the greatest damage" approach. Imagine what small companies could do with impunity!

The only comfort I take from it is that reality conformed to Corning's assessment of the situation.