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February 2011

FDA Announces Breast Implant Cancer Study: Daily Journal Quotes Jack McCowan on Litigation Impact

In a February 2 article, The Los Angeles Daily Journal quoted San Francisco Partner Jack "Skip" McCowan on the FDA's recent announcement about an investigation into a possible connection between saline and silicone-gel-filled breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or ALCL.  The announcement quickly re-opened a debate among defense attorneys, plaintiff attorneys, in-house counsel, and industry experts on whether there is a link between breast implants and the rare cancer.

Mr. McCowan was the defense liaison counsel for all manufacturers that were sued in thousands of cases pending in the California Coordinated Breast Implant Litigation (JCC) 2754), and was the California trial counsel for one of the primary manufacturers of breast implants and silicone raw materials.  He had responsibility for approximately 3500 cases and he tried the first case assigned to trial by the coordination judge.  The focus of the plaintiffs' claims was the allegation that silicone caused a variety of autoimmune diseases.  Over the years, since the litigation began, numerous studies have failed to show an association between silicone and autoimmune disease.

As Skip explained, "Over the years, after the breast implant litigation heyday, various studies showed there was no link between silicone and any disease.  I would hope the FDA would proceed with caution. It doesn't take much in the way of a study or announcement of a study for the plaintiffs bar to bring actions."  The FDA is working with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and others to establish a breast implant patient registry and to get doctors to report relevant cases of ALCL. The breast implant report is expected to be updated in the Spring.

Jack B. McCowan Jr.



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