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Invited Commentary
October 28, 2019

Private Rights and the Public Interest in Drug and Medical Device Litigation

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Law School, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • 2University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor
JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(2):299-300. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.5164

In litigation against drug companies, state and federal courts routinely enter broad protective orders that prohibit plaintiffs from disclosing information they receive through discovery. Discovery refers to the phase in a lawsuit during which parties can ask questions and request the production of documents. These protective orders are troubling and often do not advance the public interest, as discussed in this issue of JAMA Internal Medicine by Egilman and colleagues.1 Courts also frequently “seal” documents that the parties place in the record, keeping those documents out of the public view.

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