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September 1990

Agent B and the Distort System: Another Approach

Author Affiliations

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine 2119 Abington Rd Cleveland, OH 44106-2333
Department of Pediatrics UCLA School of Medicine 18033 Le Conte Los Angeles, CA 90024-1752

Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(9):954. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150330012004

Sir.—Hecht's account1 of the ill treatment that agent B received at the hands of the justice system would be difficult to believe except for the fact that many such travesties have occurred and continue to occur. Physicians should have little difficulty in recognizing agent B, an agent that has saved millions of lives worldwide in the past 40 years. Accusations regarding the risks of this agent lack scientific validity, but have resulted in litigation and publicity that have endangered its acceptance by the public, impeded the development of analogous products for other disorders, and wasted millions of dollars.

Dr Hecht is correct that the current justice mechanisms in this country, particularly those related to liability for personal injury, are inappropriately constituted for the resolution of these issues. Lay juries cannot be expected to comprehend complex scientific issues, and most judges have difficulty understanding them as well. Indeed,