Lawyers Give Nanotechnology Advice

The latest piece from Rick Weiss at Science Progress is a must-read for anyone concerned about the safety of nanotechnology. Weiss attended a conference sponsored by the Food and Drug Law Institute where lawyers provided advice about avoiding nanotech-related lawsuits, and learned this:

In short, if you are a nanotech company you need to start developing a legal strategy for “how to protect yourself,” summarized Henry Chajet, an attorney with Patton Boggs. Listening, I felt sheepish for thinking it was about how to protect your employees and customers. …

One of the best ways to stay clear of such lawsuits is to post adequate safety warnings for workers and consumers, Chajet advised, so that any user who eventually claims to have been harmed by the stuff can be argued in court to have been a “sophisticated user”—someone who was aware of the risks and took them anyway.

“‘Sophisticated user’ is a great defense,” Chajet said. “That’s how we’ve escaped liability for lots of clients.”

And, of course, companies can study the effects of the materials they’re using – but only to a point:

Jim O’Reilly, of Baker & Daniels in Cincinnati, encouraged nanotech execs to hire a few experts to do enough basic studies so they can at least argue that they made a good effort to determine employee risks. The expense will pale in comparison to the cost of defending yourself in a tort case, he said, noting that “for one lawyer’s time you can hire four industrial hygienists.”

I hope companies using nanomaterials also have advisors who are telling them that they should study nanotech risks in order to provide workplaces free of serious recognized hazards, as the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires.

This is one reason why we need government agencies to do science: we can’t rely on industry to conduct studies that might show their products or workplaces to be harmful. It’s a pricey job, but it can save a whole lot of expense and anguish when the Next Big Thing turns out to be as dangerous as asbestos.

Also, much as we hate to think that only the threat of lawsuits – and not concern for workers and consumers – motivates companies to do safety research, we’re lucky that they do face that threat. Since last year’s Supreme Court decision in Wyeth v. Levine, medical device manufacturers no longer have to the risk of lawsuits to motivate them to be more safety-conscious. Congress may effectively undo that decision by passing legislation granting consumers the right to sue medical device companies, but the lesson is clear: There are many industries that would like to eliminate or weaken the threat of litigation, and we need to make sure consumers and workers maintain the right to sue – because the threat of a lawsuit can be a powerful motivator to operate safely.

For more on the conference, including news about what FDA and EPA are doing around nanomaterials, read the whole post here.

Comments

  1. #1 antipodean
    March 1, 2009

    “I hope companies using nanomaterials also have advisors who are telling them that they should study nanotech risks in order to provide workplaces free of serious recognized hazards, as the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires.”

    A scientist might advise them to do so but no lawyer is ever going to suggest such research. It breaks a major rule of their practice “Never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to”.

  2. #2 morgie watcher
    April 19, 2009

    I hope to see explosive lawsuits against the assholes who put nanotech materials into our bodies and the environment. Two of my cousins have morgellons disease, perhaps my mother has, as well. I met two people in Australia with morgellons, too. And I keep hearing about more and more people who have got it. I also hope the people who have morgellons utilize their now weaponized bodies to spread their disease to the patent-holders, manufacturers, and all the involved big-shots in government and industry.

  3. #3 Linda Auxer
    September 23, 2009

    Nanotechnology must be stopped immediately. The pharmaceutical corps., such as Johnson and Johnson, Hoffman and LaRoch, and a host of others have been using nanotechnology in their retinoid products at nanomolar and knew that no physician would order tests at nano level nor would a lab look at nano level for toxicities of nano particles. The mere fact that gov’t agencies such as NIH, NST, NASA, DOD, and DOE have funded billions of tax payers dollars into these projects and knew a decade ago that these drugs were causing toxicity to the patients that these particles were used in the ingredients of these medications. Cosmetic corp. have incorporated these nano agents in their products. All knew that metal can cause severe toxicity to the human bodies ignored those warnings and used metals like zinc and zirconium that at nano level would build larger complexes and zirconium is used as a transitional metal to create batteries. Both of these were used in Renova 0.05%, the FDA, CDC and Johnson and Johnson were all notified of the severe adverse effect I had to this retinoid cream. No one would see me nor help me. Instead they allowed Renova 0.02% to be approved in 2002. Patent 4877805 will inform you that numerous retinoids, natural and synthetic were used and retinoids are terpenes and are stereoisomers. Search Stereo chemistry chapter six and it will show you how stereoisomers used vanderWaals forces, electro static and push and pull and make steering wheel configurations used to steer in the toxic gases that these ligands emit. Chemicals that are explosives were used in this cream such as xanthum gum and tetrazole and silicone and phosphorous. They used TTNPB which is an engineered hepatitis B virus and a chemical per Biomol and Marligen that should not be used on humans per evidence found this year, nor should all trans retinoic acid, isotretinoin, cis 9 or any of the retinoids used in this cream and other creams and pills like it. How can chemical corps. state do not use on humans, yet pharmaceutical corp. have thousands of patents out there as well as cosmetic corp. like Avon, Estee Lauder and Unilever. Liquid silicone is used as a drug delivery and causes silicosis. Johnson and Johnson knew their retinoid products, also known as tretinoin, causes impetigo, dermatitis, Keratitis, myocardio infarctions, opacity of the cornea, ground glass opacity of lungs, infiltrates, hemorrhaging, severe abdominal pain, fractures of the bones, bone and liver cancer from the benzene, chemical leukemia, and a host of other health disorders. They have refused to help as have physicians and attorneys. Dr. Frederick Kaufmann, Rutgers toxicology and pharmaceutical dept, knew since 1988 that ttnpb was 1000 fold more toxic than all trans retinoic acid at nanomolar, yet Rutgers refused to analyze the cream brought to them and hair samples. When researching ttnpb and Dr. Kaufmann’s report, I printed out the report to find that Rutgers, UMD-NJ, and Johnson and Johnson are a joint institution and many of the physicians I saw are members of the UMD-NJ. How do we find out the truth when our state universities are a joint institution with a pharmaceutical corp.? Why are attorneys refusing to help someone suffering? It is not only the occupational workers that need protecting it is all of us. No one has the right to alter someone’s DNA, no one has the right to damage chromosones that the methylacrylate compounds cause. If anyone used Renova or other retinoid products and suffered severe adverse reactions and want to know the truth email me at auxerl@yahoo.com. The FDA has removed the website that had correspondence from Johnson and Johnson to the FDA and knew the adverse reactions that I suffered as they were stated in that report by the subjects being tested for Renova 0.02% and 0.05%. I am pleading with every women and teenager not to use these life threatening creams and pills.

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