6 Am. J.L. & Med. 151 (1980-1981)
Rutherford, Privitera, and Chad Green: Laetrile's Setbacks in the Courts

handle is hein.journals/amlmed6 and id is 171 raw text is: Rutherford, Privitera, and Chad Green:
Laetrile's Setbacks in the Courts
Jonathan Brant, J.D.*
John Graceffa, J.D.*
ABSTRACT
The Chad Green case has again focused national and international
attention on the unproven cancer remedy known as laetrile. Laetrile has
attracted considerable attention in recent years as a result of claims that it is
a nontoxic form of cancer treatment. Twenty-one states have legalized
prescription of laetrile within their borders, despite the efforts of the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) to keep laetrile off the market.
The authors examine the claims about laetrile's effectiveness and com-
ment upon scientific tests concerning its efficacy. They maintain that scien-
tific support for the use of laetrile is almost totally absent and that evidence
of the dangers of laetrile is substantial. After reviewing the medical evi-
dence concerning laetrile, the authors describe the efforts of laetrile pro-
ponents to use the courts as the battleground to legalize laetrile. In early
skirmishes, laetrile proponents were successful in opposing the efforts of
the FDA; under a constitutional privacy theory several cou*t upheld tin
right of competent adults to select laetrile therapy.
Subsequently, however, as the authors demonstrate, the U.S. Supreme
Court, in United States v. Rutherford, and the California Supreme Court,
in People v. Privitera, narrowed the federal constitutional privacy right
by declining to read into it a right to take laetrile. Finally, the Massa.
chusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in the Chad Green case, considered the
question of laetrile's toxicity to a recipient of the drug.
The authors discuss the interrelationship among the three cases. They
argue that the overwhelming proof in Chad Green that laetrile is harmful
* Associate Professor of Law at New England School of Law. From January 1975 to
January 1980, he was an Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massa-
chusetts. In that position, he represented the Commonwealth in the Chad Green case
and also participated in several medicolegal cases, including the Saikewicz decision.
 Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As a law-
student intern with the Department of the Attorney General, he assisted in the prepara-
tion and trial of the Chad Green case.
This Article represents the opinions ard legal conclusions of its authors and does not
necessarily represent opinions or ei-al ,oridusions of the Department of the Attorney
General. Opinions of the Attorney (,,-UtiaJ are formal documents rendered pursuant to
specific statutory authority.

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