Published on June 3, 2009 | by LawNews

Prof. Monroe Freedman in Newsday Story on Use of Expert Witness in ‘Zoloft Defense’

Professor of Law Monroe H. Freedman was quoted in the following Newsday article.

‘Zoloft defense’ may be part of LI case
By Kathleen Kerr
June 2, 2009

Pfizer is paying Dr. Douglas Jacobs, a well-known psychiatrist and associate clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, $7,500 a day to testify as a witness for the prosecution. Jacobs has already said in a pretrial hearing that withdrawal from Zoloft does not cause violence.

“Pfizer’s evaluation of Zoloft data never has revealed any signal of an increased risk of violence related to either use of discontinuation of use of Zoloft,” said Pfizer spokesman Christopher Loder.

Jacobs’ testimony could help convict Hampson. But if he is acquitted, that could adversely affect Zoloft sales.

Arthur Caplan, a University of Pennsylvania medical ethicist, said having Jacobs testify is a problem, given his payments from Pfizer.

“When you get into a position where you’re being asked to comment on a drug made by a manufacturer who pays you, that poses an ethics problem,” Caplan said.

Eric Phillips, a spokesman for the Nassau district attorney’s office, said: “Such an expert might cost the taxpayers $25,000 or more, and without an expert the case is substantially weakened. By making Pfizer hire the expert to defend its drug, we can continue to fight on behalf of the victim.”

Monroe Freedman, a Hofstra University law professor, said, “There’s nothing unethical about the prosecutor’s use of the witness.”

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