Yale lawprof Peter Schuck declines to join in the isn't-it-wonderful media chorus about Wyeth v. Levine:
...Juries have great virtues in many kinds of cases, but making these medical cost-benefit tradeoffs is not one of them. They sit in only one case, and the plaintiff's lawyer makes sure that the severely injured, extremely sympathetic plaintiff whom they see is not representative of the much larger group of those who reap the drug's benefits when it is properly administered. The trial lawyers intentionally seek jurors who know nothing about the subject at hand. The jury's verdict is completely opaque and unexplained. It is accountable to no one. And juries in different states make different decisions on the same drug--hardly a recipe for the uniformity and predictability to which manufacturers should be entitled.
A jury's flaws are inherent in its design. In contrast, the FDA's flaws--and they are many--can at least be remedied by Congress, to which it is highly accountable.
Empowering institutionally limited lay juries to make life-and-death decisions about drugs is a foolish way to make public policy, especially when the real culprit is not the manufacturer but the malpracticing clinician. ...
Read the whole thing here.