Are Pharmacologists/Toxicologists Without Medical Degrees or MDs Best Qualified to Testify About Drugs?
Presented at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences February 23, 2001, Seattle, WA In 1993, the Supreme Court asserted the need for District Court Judges to serve as gatekeepers in qualifying experts to testify under Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) 104 (a) and 702, and ensure that proffered testimony is both relevant and reliable (Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 113 S.Ct. 2786). FRE 104 (a) states in pertinent part, “Preliminary questions concerning the qualification of a person to be a witness … shall be determined by the court ….” FRE 702 states in pertinent part that “if … specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact … , a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion ….” Faced with objections like “Not a medical doctor”, or “Beyond the scope”, courts have had to rule on the appropriateness of permitting non-physicians to testify about the effects of drugs. Frequently, the courts