Breast Implants Info Essay, Research Paper
Breast Plants: Good or Bad?
For decades consumer “advocates” claimed that legal reform to make it harder for individuals to sue companies would unleash a torrent of unsafe products on the market. Instead, an out-of-control legal system is making it almost impossible for companies to develop products for women without risking bankruptcy. Consider silicone breast implants: Bags filled with silicone gel have been used for over three decades to reconstruct or enlarge women’s breasts. Anywhere from 500,000 to 2 million women have received breast implants. Thanks to a class action lawsuit, however, breast implant makers are being forced to abandon the implant market even though there is no evidence implants cause harm. In the 1980s, some women began claiming their silicone breast implants leaked, causing a variety of symptoms common to connective tissue diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma.
By the summer of 1992, thousands of cases were filed, including at least nine state and federal class actions lawsuits. It is now clear silicone breast implants pose no health risk to women. A study, conducted by the Mayo Clinic, compared women who had breast implants and those who did not over a 27 year period and found there was no difference in the risk for connective tissue disease. Similar results were found for rates of cancer other than breast cancer. In addition, not a single study supports the claim made by some women that silicone breast implants cause higher rates of multiple sclerosis and auto-immune disease.
If there is no scientific connection between silicone breast implants and connective tissue disease, why have women won cases against implant manufacturers? Courts in the United States have wide discretion on who can be considered an expert for purposes of medical testimony. Lawyers are extremely successful in getting researchers who engage in shoddy research on the stand to testify that breast implants do indeed cause diseases. In the current legal environment a single victory by implant plaintiff’s can cost a company millions. Lawyers are getting rich off this, but women will find their medical choices limited in the future thanks to these lawsuits. Fearing liability issues, companies are responding by simply not developing technologies that might expose them to product liability suits. Silicone, for example, potentially has hundreds of uses, but companies will think long and hard before marketing any sort of product that incorporates it for fear that they too will become the victim of lawsuits.
Already trial lawyers are putting out feelers to take on the makers of Norplant. Norplant is a birth control device implanted in the arm and delivers contraceptives for up to five years. Norplant is also made out of silicone, and it is only a matter of time before lawsuits claiming it causes connective tissue disorder start appearing in America’s courts. Most pharmaceutical companies have already stopped researching new contraceptives due to liability concerns, and this could spell death for future contraceptive options.
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