cover image Informed Consent: Inside the Dow Corning Breast Implant Tragedy

Informed Consent: Inside the Dow Corning Breast Implant Tragedy

John Byrne. McGraw-Hill Companies, $22 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-07-009625-7

This wrenching, compelling personal story raises vital questions for corporate ethics programs. Michigan executive John Swanson, creator and overseer of Dow Corning's ethics program, faced a moral crisis when his wife, Colleen, began experiencing problems that she attributed to her Dow-manufactured silicone breast implants: severe migraines, debilitating joint and back pain, numbness in her arms and hands and extreme fatigue. In 1991, she underwent removal of the leaking implants, which had been in her chest for 17 years. Her husband then recused himself from Dow's silicone breast implant business, telling his employers that he would no longer help the company defend itself against the growing onslaught of criticism and lawsuits. He had gradually come to believe that Dow had failed to fully inform women of the known risks and had ignored numerous opportunities to get out of the implant business gracefully. Colleen Swanson settled a lawsuit against Dow Corning out of court in 1993, and her husband, stigmatized at work, retired that same year. Byrne (Whiz Kids) is a writer for Business Week. 75,000 first printing; $80,000 ad/promo; first serial to Business Week; author tour. (Oct.)