To: Breast Implant Plaintiff’s Attorneys and Clients
From: Al Levin, M.D., J.D.
Re: Dow Corning/Dow Chemical Settlement Package
I am writing to you as an old physician/scientist and a new attorney. If you are voting yes to the Bankruptcy Plan because “our science is bad” please consider this letter first.
As many of you know, before my life as an attorney I served as an expert witness in these and many other cases. I have studied and practiced clinical immunology, immunopathology and clinical medicine for over three decades. I have published extensively in the peer-reviewed, medical literature on the subjects of cancer, clinical immunology, and immunopathology. I have been on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), two of our country’s best medical schools. I continue to hold an appointment at UCSF. I am very familiar with silicone, its adjuvant and immune activation properties.
I will tell you without reservation that there is no better case for disease causation than the silicone-gel breast implant cases. All one has to do is look at the patient’s biologic response to the implant. The patient mounts a chronic foreign body reaction. This is nature’s way of saying this material is not good. It is harmful and offensive and the body needs protection by walling the material off. The granulomatous reaction is identical to the human body’s response to syphilis and tuberculosis. Syphilis and tuberculosis are human diseases with systemic consequences. Silicone-induced granulomatous disease is a human disease with systemic consequences. Of this there is absolutely no question.
Why then are the defendants able to convince judges that silicone is “inert”? The answer is simple. The defense attorneys are paying scientists and physicians to tell half truths and lies. Using lies and deceit as well as word games in their writings, these attorneys are requesting judges to rule that foreign body reactions and granulomatous diseases are “normal reactions”. Absent strong, intelligent objection, some judges are being taken in by these deceptive practices.
What can we do about this problem? We can and will bring these people to accountability. We must use new tactics. We must go on the offensive. It is not OK for doctors to lie in court. They will be held to their testimony given under oath. Their testimony will be made public where it will reach their peers who assess their competence to practice medicine and perform scientific research. It is not OK for a judge with an eighth-grade education in science to rule that a Nobel Laureate’s science is flawed. This outrages many physician/scientists I know and should outrage you.
The recent ruling by Judge Vining of Georgia is an object example of this travesty of justice. Judge Vining ruled that Professor Gershwin and Professor Shanklin’s testimony could not be heard by a jury because their science was flawed. These are two full professors at two of our nation’s finest medical schools who are also currently licensed to practice medicine. These are two men who serve as senior editors of our nation’s finest peer-reviewed medical journals. These are two men who dedicated their professional lives to the study of silicone gel and its effects on the human body. These men are constantly reviewed by their peers for their competency to teach and practice medicine. Both of these men have sterling reputations in their fields and hold current medical licenses and professorships. Judge Vining’s biography shows no evidence of any scientific training. There is no rational way this man with his limited grasp on immunology could assess the credibility of Gershwin or Shanklin’s testimony. This is precisely why our founding fathers developed the jury system. It is far less likely that 9 or 12 independent citizens would be wrongly influenced by lies than one political appointee. This type of judicial conduct represents either corruption or irrational reasoning. In either case, these justices must be called to answer for their conduct.
If these were limited controversies we could allow this conduct to pass. Unfortunately this controversy is not limited. This litigation has not only prostituted breast-implant-related science, it has corrupted the entire field of immunology. When I was one of the original developers of the automated anti-nuclear antibody assay (ANA), the normal range was 1:10. To be ultraconservative we considered an ANA of less than 1:20 as non-diagnostic. The other day, I ordered an ANA on a 14 year old boy with a history of rheumatic fever to see if he may have a more serious autoimmune disorder. I was relieved to see the ANA come back as negative until I read the reference range. The new reference range is 1:80, an 800% increase. This means that children with smoldering kidney disease and ANA titer of 1:40 would go undetected until they began to suffer permanent kidney damage. This is a direct result of the prostitution of immunology caused by breast-implant litigation.
Before this litigation, there was no controversy regarding the dangers of silicone gel. The haze of misinformation laid by the defense in this litigation is clearing. As in the Agent Orange litigation, the truth about these dangers is becoming harder and harder to suppress. We must not admit defeat at this time. We will prevail. If you base your decision on a fear that you will lose your cases because the scientific support for causation is lacking, you are mistaken.
Alan S. Levin, M.D., J.D.
Diplomate: American Board of Allergy/Immunology
Diplomate: American Board of Pathology
Attorney at Law