|Abstract or Summary
- Since the early twentieth century, manufacturers of toxic products have attempted
to discredit research linking their product with disease. At the same time they have manufactured their own science designed to minimize risks associated with their products. Much of this activity has been conducted by or through corporate attorneys, endeavors that are the subject of this thesis.
Although attorney involvement has often been shielded by the attorney privileges, information disclosed in silica and asbestos lawsuits demonstrates the full range of legal activities, including identifying and hiring experts, preparing contracts for research that limited public disclosure, editing final research papers, harassing opposing experts, and manipulating regulations and workers' compensation laws. These efforts were successful in limiting victims' recovery for silicosis and keeping it out of the public eye. At first, asbestos manufacturers were similarly successful. However, a growing number of public health advocates and plaintiff attorneys have brought the controversy into the public legal arena by suing third party manufacturers, bankrupting numerous companies in the process.
Companies have now turned to "Litigation Support Firms" who work hand in hand with attorneys to transform the peer review literature by publishing carefully structured research (and reviews of past research) in peer-reviewed, but often industry controlled, journals. These articles invariably find no or little hazard and are often published in slightly altered forms in two to four publications, thus slanting the entire balance of the peer review literature. This attorney involvement in medical research is a vital issue in the production of knowledge, having delayed recognition of hazards such as silica and asbestos by many decades. It continues to skew the understanding of occupational diseases.