Judging the scientific and medical literature: some legal implications of changes to biomedical research and publication

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Abstract

Over the last two decades judges (and regulators) in all common law jurisdictions have increased their reliance on published medical and scientific literature. During the same period biomedical research has undergone fundamental and unprecedented change. This article explores some of the changes to the location, organization and funding of biomedical research in order to assess their implications for liability and proof. Focusing on peer review and publication, along with reforms promoted by the editors of some of the world's pre-eminent general medical journals (e.g. British Medical Journal, the Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine), this article considers how judges might respond to recent findings which suggest that corporate sponsorship systematically biases biomedical research. Given that common law judges have been reforming rules of evidence and procedure in search of impartial expertise and privileging published biomedical research, how should they respond to the strategic manipulation of the scientific record?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-561
JournalOxford Journal of Legal Studies
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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