Silicone Survivors from around the nation and the world are being asked to vote on the reorganization plan of Dow Corning Corporation and their bankruptcy case. As part of the tort claimants against Dow Chemical, the persons affected by silicone poisoning have a right to examine the settlement arrived at by both sides of the issue. Before voting we urge all Silicone Survivors to thoroughly read the articles at Silicone Resources
Then read this article from the New York Times to further add to your information pool about how the entire process of the investigations behind silicone poisoning have been tainted. Then call your individual attorneys and confirm that your rights are being properly adjudicated.
Report on Breast Implants Is Tainted, Plaintiffs Assert
By GINA KOLATA
Lawyers representing women who contend that their health was affected by their silicone breast implants sought Tuesday to dismiss the report of a panel of scientists who evaluated the issue, saying that one panel member had a conflict of interest.
They said his collaboration with the other three members of the panel "taints the final opinions" of the group.
The lawyers filed a motion yesterday in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Ala., where Judge Sam C. Pointer Jr., who oversees breast implant lawsuits in federal courts, had appointed the panel to evaluate research on the toxicity of silicone breast implants. In their report last December, the scientists said evidence to date did not support claims that implants had caused disease.
Now, plaintiffs' lawyers said, they have discovered that one of the four, Peter Tugwell of the University of Ottawa, had entered into consulting agreements with Bristol-Myers Squibb, an implant maker, at about the time the panel's report was being released. They said Tugwell had received a $750 honorarium for taking part in a company-sponsored seminar on arthritis and agreed to participate in the company's research on new arthritis drugs. They also said he had solicited money for a professional meeting from drug companies, including Bristol-Myers.
Pointer did not return telephone calls Tuesday. A clerk said he would review the motion on Monday.
Richard Eittreim, a lawyer for Bristol-Myers Squibb, said the plaintiffs' lawyers' complaints were "ridiculous." He dismissed the entire issue as a desperate ploy of lawyers who see that the tide has turned against them.
Tugwell referred questions to a lawyer for the science panel, John M. Kobayashi of Denver. Kobayashi, did not return several telephone calls, but released a letter urging reporters to "evaluate all of the facts regarding this matter, including all written submissions and argument to the court, before reporting a one-sided version of these events." He did not respond in detail to the assertions in the motion filed Tuesday .
A spokesman for the lawyers who filed the motion said they too would not comment.
Robert Gordon, a New York lawyer not involved in the motion but who represents women with implants, said the plaintiffs' lawyers were not accusing Tugwell of intentionally altering his findings at the behest of Bristol-Myers Squibb. Nor, he said, are they accusing the company of deliberately trying to buy Tugwell's support. But, Gordon said, when all of Tugwell's contacts with the company are considered and that he did not disclose them, it "undermines the trust of the litigants" and throws the panel's findings into question.
"It's not a lot of money -- I don't think that's what the point is," Gordon said.
The conflict of interest statement that Tugwell signed asked if he or anyone in his household "ever received any research funds, graduate support or other funds (awards, honoraria, speaking or consulting fees, etc.) from any interested party." The contacts he had with Bristol-Myers occurred after Tugwell filed his conflict of interest statement. The plaintiffs' lawyers say he should have altered the form at that point.
Gordon said the report had an immediate impact on the implant litigation. "A number of people have settled their cases on the basis of this report," he said. "Now the women are feeling a little ripped off."
Eittreim, the Bristol-Myers lawyer, criticized the motion by the plaintiffs' lawyers as "the latest effort by the plaintiffs to discredit the science panel's results."
"One thing they can't abide is serious scientists looking at these issues," Eittreim said.
Noting that the instructions to the panelists gave as an example of conflict of interest a "significant financial investment or close tie to a corporate defendant," he said: 'By no stretch of the imagination could this be considered a significant financial investment or a close tie. The money was really no money at all. It didn't even reimburse his expenses."
Eittreim said the next step was for Bristol-Myers Squibb to file its response with Pointer's office, which he said it would do by the end of this week.
BREAKING NEWS: April 21, 1999. A U.S. District Judge has rejected claims that this scientific panel that found no link between breast implants and disease was biased, which has cleared the way for attorneys to question the experts. Read Michigan Live Newsflash.