Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Eastman vs. Plastipure Trial is Starting

The long awaited lawsuit between Eastman Chemical and Plastipure/Certichem is about to start. Eastman filed the suit after Plastipure claimed that Eastman's BPA-free, polycarbonate alternative, Tritan had shown estrogenic activity.

I've been following this lawsuit closely for a number of reasons. First, I thought that the original research published by Plastipure that started this whole mess was a stinky pile of excrement and said so just 5 days after the report went online [*]. This commentary was eventually picked up and reported by PlasticsNews. Lastly, I was contacted by Eastman's legal team to assist in the case, but due to personal issues at the time, was sadly unable to do so.

It was readily apparent from the research article that Plastipure had published the article in an effort to increase business for it's Certichem partner (many of the Plastipure employees also work for Certichem) and so it was with feelings of schadenfreude that I read about the hardships this suit has caused Plastipure.
"If Eastman prevails, it will probably mean the end of PlastiPure and CertiChem. The suit has already caused big problems for the companies, says Mike Usey, the CEO of PlastiPure. 'More than half the people that were at CertiChem and PlastiPure before the suit are now gone'...".
Unfortunately, Usey continues with the sales job:
"Even so, Usey says he's optimistic about the companies' future. 'One of the good things that should come out of this suit is more consumer awareness of what the real issues are and what solutions are immediately available.' ".
The "solutions [that] are immediately available" of course, are the solutions that Certichem provides.

Much as we try, we cannot prevent flawed scientific research from getting published. Fortunately, mechanisms exist for correcting the technical literature, albeit at what can be a very slow pace at times. But when flawed research is used for economic gain, that needs to be pointed out and dealt with quickly. Sadly, lawsuits are not about finding out the truth, but rather about dispensing "justice", and there can often be a profound gap between the two. Hopefully that will not be the outcome of this case.

[*]The researchers attempted to perform accelerated aging on the plastic samples but failed miserably at the attempt. For instance, they used 254 nm UV light to simulate sunlight, a crazy idea since sunlight at the earth never gets below 280 nm. As a result, they were running UV-initiated, chemical reactions that will never occur in any natural environment. Further, they never analyzed the samples for what new chemicals they created, and didn't attempt to find out if these new chemicals were what were causing the estrogenic activity.

In the same vein, to simulate multiple dishwashing cycles, they put the samples in an autoclave, reaching far higher temperatures than would ever occur in a dishwasher. And so on. The bottom line is that they knew nothing about accelerated aging and it shows.

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