The impact of litigation on neurologic research
Environmental factors likely contribute to the etiology of many progressive neurologic diseases. Such factors include putative neurotoxins that are often byproducts of commercial industries, potentially exposing corporations to liabilities when their products or activities are linked to the development of disease. Any hint of scientific data that support such a cause and effect relationship often encourages plaintiffs' attorneys to file suits against corporations alleging harm to their clients forcing corporations and employers to defend themselves. Both plaintiff and defendant teams hire expert witnesses who are frequently active investigators in relevant fields to bolster their positions. These legal proceedings can influence investigators and hamper research. Interactions with researchers can lead to personal financial or career gain that may bias research findings or impugn other investigators. Even researchers who have not been retained by either side of a legal dispute may be forced to respond to subpoenas for research data causing a substantial loss of research time for investigators and financial burdens on universities. Courts may require release of research records containing personal health information that could sully the trust research participants have in investigators. Litigation and its peripheral effects may bias investigators, impede research efforts, and harm research participants, thereby undermining efforts to understand the cause of neurologic disease.
Medical Subject Headings
Biomedical Research (ethics, legislation & jurisprudence); Expert Testimony (ethics, legislation & jurisprudence); Humans; Liability, Legal; Neurology (ethics, legislation & jurisprudence); Truth Disclosure; United States
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Racette, Brad A.; Bradley, Ann; Wrisberg, Carrie A.; and Perlmutter, Joel S., "The impact of litigation on neurologic research" (2006). Neurology. 1186.