Thursday, August 20, 2009

Study Finds Alarming Rate of Medication Overdoses Among Kids

The American Journal of Preventative Medicine reports that more than 70,000 children are poisoned each year by prescription or over-the-counter medicines. This figure is more than twice as many children as are poisoned by other products.

According to the study, most children are poisoned by acetaminophen, which is used in Tylenol, or opioid painkillers and benzodiazepine antianxiety drugs.

Tragically about 75 % of overdoses occur in children under 5, the study found.

See, Nicholas Bakalar, The New York Times 08/13/2009 Read Article: The New York Times

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

MDs peddling BS: Shedding Light on Doctors’ Conflict of Interest

The Washington Post reports that determining doctors’ ties with pharmaceutical companies and any related conflict of interest are often hard, if not impossible, tasks for patients.

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley and Herb Kohl, seeks to relieve some of that burden by requiring all payments more than $100 made by a drug or medical device company to a doctor be reported.

Doctors justify the “pharmaceutical pay-off” saying that the "doctor/industry partnership" is often needed to help develop beneficial new drugs.

But, the “doctor/industry partnership" is circular reasoning. Here’s the effect: Doctors argue that, with the help of doctors, the pharmaceutical companies develop so-called "new drugs," which the doctors then prescribes to patients, who then pay "big bucks" for the "new-drugs," so that the pharmaceutical company can make "big bucks" to “pay-off” the doctors.

It appears that the “MDs” are peddling “BS.” See, Ibby Caputo, The Washington Post 08/18/2009 Read Article: The Washington Post

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CPSC Recalls Toy Workshops and Trucks

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of five “Little Tikes” toys, after an infant choked on a plastic nail included in the sets.

The affected toys sets are the Electronic Project Workshop, the Little Handiworker Workhorse, the Home Improvements Two-sided Workshop, the Swirlin' Sawdust Workshop and the Black Pickup Truck with Tools.

Although the toys are intended for toddlers and not infants, the company said it is aware other children in a household may have access to the toys.

See, Ronald D. White, LA Times 08/14/2009 Read Article: LA Times

Monday, August 17, 2009

Medial Malpractice: Doctor Operated on Wrong Leg

It was a patient’s worst nightmare.

In a sense, it added insult to injury.

Here’s the injury: An Oklahoma man has sued a surgeon of operating on the wrong knee. The patient even “marked” the correct knee with a “black marker.” Yet, the surgeon operated on the unmarked knee!

Now the insult: The suit claims that staff at the Bailey Medical Center in Tulsa tried to get him to consent to surgery to correct the error while he was still under the effects of anesthesia!

As a consequence, the patient may have to undergo a knee replacement surgery to correct damage caused by the botched surgery.

Next time you here “frivolous lawsuit” ask, which leg was marked, and which leg was cut off?

See: Matt Barnard, Tulsa World 08/14/2009 Read Article: Tulsa World($)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bank of America Announced It Will Halt Forced Arbitration

Finally, working families get some justice!

On August 13, the Bank of America Corp. (BOA) announced that it would no longer force arbitration of consumer debt. Recently, BOA settled a lawsuit brought by the Minnesota Attorney General to halt the unfair system that amounts to little more than "rigged justice," rigged in favor of credit card companies. In the past, BOA teamed-up with the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) in what amounted to "rigged justice" in debt collection cases. NAF and the American Arbitration Association (AAA) also agreed to stop forcing consumers to arbitrate in debt collection cases, a process that consumers rarely won.

The American Association for Justice Associate Director of Federal Relations, Julia Duncan said:

“While the decision by Bank of America to no longer rely on forced arbitration in consumer disputes is a positive step, it’s clear that Congress must intervene to protect consumers. Forced arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of everything from credit card and cell phone contracts to employee handbooks and nursing home agreements. These clauses eliminate Americans’ access to the courts, forcing them instead into a private system set up by corporations to favor corporations. That is why Congress must pass the Arbitration Fairness Act and prohibit this abusive practice.”

To learn more about abusive forced arbitration clauses, see The Devil is In the Details - Forced Arbitration

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Louisiana Seat Belt Law in Effect Today, August 15, 2009

Get ready! Today, August 15, 2009, a new Louisiana law goes into effect requiring "everyone" in a motor vehicle to wear a seat belt.

Louisiana State Police say they'll issue warnings until Oct. 1 to give the public time to get used to the new law.

Baton Rouge police say they'll give warnings for about two weeks before they start issuing tickets. Other new traffic laws go into effect on Saturday, too.

I'm for personal freedom, but it makes no sense for anyone to be in a moving vehicle without wearing a seat belt. So, although there's a "grace-period," everyone should "buckle-up."

Marsha Shuler, The Advocate 08/14/2009 Read Article: The Advocate

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Judge OKs Testimony by State Farm Whistleblowers

Two sisters, Cori Rigsby and Kerri Rigsby, claim that State Farm defrauded the government in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. ruled that the Rigsbt sisters will be allowed to testify in their lawsuit against State Farm.

Monday, U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. ruled that Cori and Kerri Rigsby’s work as insurance adjusters gave them "relevant knowledge of the allegations at hand" and that the two should be permitted to testify.

The Rigsby sisters allege that State Farm wrongly denied claims arising from Katrina, shifting costs onto the National Flood Insurance Program.

Michael Newsom, Biloxi Sun Herald 08/10/2009 Read Article: Biloxi Sun Herald

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Study Finds Hospital Medical Errors Go Unreported

In a series of articles, the Hearst Newspapers reports that many hospitals still don't report medical errors, even after a 1999 report called for reform! The report, authored by 22 doctors, demanded improvements in patient safety and a nationwide system to track hospital errors. But hospitals have been non-responsive.

The Hearst Newspapers found that, ten years after the report, many hospitals have been slow to institute change. Why the delay?

Lobbyist are one cause of the the problem. Lobbyist have fought against a national registry for hospital errors.

Cathleen F. Crowley and Eric Nalder, San Francisco Chronicle 08/09/2009 Read Article: San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More On: Judicial Secrecy And Seroquel, Shrouded In Controversy.

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s Judicial Secrecy And Seroquel, Shrouded In Controversy.

The Washington Post has an interesting article, “A Silenced Drug Study Creates An Uproar,” dealing with the Seroquel case. What started out simply as "Study 15" has become a serious problem for AstraZeneca, the makers of Seroquel.

Here's what happened.

Study 15, issued in 1997, the same year the FDA approved Seroquel, raised "serious concerns about an entirely new class of expensive drugs." Nothing gets the attention of a pharmaceutical manufacturer better than the manufacturer’s pocketbook. The thought that Study 15 might jeopardize an entire class of "expensive" pharmaceuticals was more than AstraZeneca could handle, so they buried the study.

AstraZeneca never shared the negative research data of Study 15 with doctors, opting instead to publish positive results for Seroquel based on "less rigorous studies.” Further, AstraZeneca minimized the metabolic problems that might lead to diabetes. In the process, AstraZeneca marketed Seroquel, collecting $12 billion over the past 3 years. That's right "$12 billion."

The details of Study 15 have emerged as a result of lawsuits filed nationwide. Taxpayer-funded research has found that new anti-psychotic drugs such as Seroquel are 10 times more expansive and did not really offer a "real advantage" over older anti-psychotic medications. In fact, they presented risks that AstraZeneca minimized.

The real problem here is more than corporate greed! Rather it's the problem of indifferent conservative judges who enter “secrecy orders” to protect corporate greed and prevent the dissemination of information such a Study 15. Judicial secrecy orders that compromise public health and safety need to stop now!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Judicial Secrecy And Seroquel, Shrouded In Controversy.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers use "judicial secrecy" to protect themselves and hide evidence of a drug’s harmful side-effects, evidence the public has a right to know. But a group of lawyers have had enough.

Here’s what happened.

AstraZeneca manufactures Seroquel, the pharmaceutical trade name for quetiapine, a potent anti-psychotic that some believe mediate through antagonist activity at dopamine and serotonin receptors. Although the FDA had only approved Seroquel for schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, AstraZeneca had been marketing the drug to patients suffering from depression and anxiety, even though all disorders are not the same.

In 2001, Ted Baker, who lives in Bastrop, LA, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a depressive disorder. His doctor prescribed Seroquel. Baker, like many consumers of Seroquel, experienced “drastic weight gain” in a short time period. In 2004, Mr.Baker was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. However, Mr. Baker never knew and was never warned that the Seroquel had this dangerous side effect.

Now, after the fact, AstraZeneca wants the FDA to “expand” the use of Seroquel to include patients with depression and anxiety. Mr. Baker’s lawyers and many other lawyer believe that the “judicially sealed documents” surrounding Seroquel may well shed some light on the side effects of the drug. It seems that AstraZeneca “buried” unfavorable studies on the drug, according to an internal e-mail unsealed as part of litigation over the drug. The lawyers want all of the documents released to the FDA before the drug is officially approved for expanded use.

The problem, here, arises out of "judicial secrecy," which has been on the rise since the 1980s. It reached a climax in the 1990s. Without justification, indifferent conservative judges often willingly issue broad based "secrecy orders," protecting corporate predators and hiding evidence of inferior or bad pharmaceuticals from consumers.

To partially cure the problem, judicious secrecy needs to stop! To completely cure the problem, there needs to be corporate responsibility!

Here is the full release on the AstraZeneca case: Full release on the AstraZeneca case

Also, here are a few links to stories written on the case:

Associated Press: AstraZeneca challenges witnesses in Seroquel suit

Bloomberg: AstraZeneca Seroquel Studies ‘Buried,’ Papers Show (Update3)

Monday, March 16, 2009

You Won't Believe: Unpaid Parking Tickets Lead to Man’s Death

This case is pretty amazing. Here's what happened. Police jailed Glenn Seldon for four days for driving with a license that had been suspended due to six unpaid parking tickets. Mr. Seldon, who had cancer, died nine days after being arrested. Mr. Sheldon's family claims that police officers denied him access to daily medication needed to keep infection and blood clots under control. John Marzulli, New York Daily News 01/20/2009 Read Article: New York Daily News

Monday, March 02, 2009

Residents of Independence, La., File Clean Water Act Lawsuit

The residents of Independence, Louisiana, have had it! Enough is enough! they say.

With the help of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, residents of Independence, located in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, filed a federal lawsuit in New Orleans alleging that, for almost two years, a $3 million shrimp processing plant in Independence has caused the city's water treatment plant to violate its permit.

Officials with the company, DoRan Seafood LLC, the accused, say the town's water treatment problems existed before the plant opened.

Independence has a large and very proud Italian-American population that holds a large Italian festival every year in April. Originally known as "Uncle Sam," Louisiana, Independence has retained its proud Italian heritage, including the "will to resist," the "will to fight."

Get ready for a good fight DoRan Seafood LLC; you will need it! Don't mess with Uncle Sam!

See, David Mitchell's article, The Advocate 02/26/2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Preemption: The Theft Of Your Civil Liberties

Help for workers and consumers is on the way. "Complete Immunity" is out; fairness is in.

Pres. Obama is poised to reverse the Bush administration's “COMPLETE IMMUNITY DOCTRINE,” a radically conservative doctrine that uses PREEMPTION to give complete immunity to negligent corporations. Preemption deprives workers and consumers of the right to hold wrongdoers accountable through the civil justice system. The Bush administration has used preemption to deprive Americans of several fundamental, traditionally American civil liberties, most notably the right to trial by jury and the right of access to the courts.

To reverse the injustice, the Obama administration needs to immediately implement the following:

(1) Issue an immediate stay order of all "non-final or recently completed rules" that PREEMPT state law protecting workers and consumers. At this time, there are 23 preemptive regulations, including several dealing with auto safety and products requiring FDA approval.

(2) Revise Executive Order 13132 on Federalism, instructing agencies and the courts regarding the Obama administration’s policy of "NO PREEMPTION TO DENY CIVIL LIBERTIES." The Obama administration should make it clear: PREEMPTION is THEFT of CIVIL LIBERTIES!

(3) Establish a White House office to coordinate and implement a "NO PREEMPTION TO DENY CIVIL LIBERTIES" policy, carefully overseeing the preemption language included in all federal rules.

(4) Utilize the rule making process to reinstate Congressional intent regarding the ability of injured consumers to hold medical device manufacturers accountable for injuries to consumers. In Riegel v. Medtronic, Sup. Ct. Justice Antonin Scalia "misconstrued the Medical Device Amendments of 1976," and gave all irresponsible medical device manufacturers "complete immunity" from claims regarding their Class III pre-market approved devices. The FDA needs to withdraw its August 2008 final rule regarding labeling. The rule discourages medical device manufactures and pharmaceutical companies from updating warning labels with hazard information without prior FDA approval, a blatant attempt to influence the Supreme Court’s decision in Wyeth v. Levine (argued November 3, 2008).

(5) Issue new rule making guidelines for rules containing PREEMPTION language. Agencies like the FDA and NHTSA have become SUPER-LEGISLATORS, implementing agency policies contrary to the Constitution’s separation of powers and explicit Congressional intent. Here are some examples:

70 Fed. Reg. 36094 (2005) and 73 Fed. Reg. 58887 (2008) give automobile manufacturers BLANKET IMMUNITY from lawsuits, literally a "get-out-of-jail-free" card, for making vehicles with an insufficient number of seat belts. Yet, many states have laws that make illegal for driver and passengers not to "buckle-up."

71 Fed. Reg. 76852 (2006) and 73 Fed. Reg. 72130 (2008) "establishes minimum security requirements for railroads to transport hazardous materials." This rule gives railroads COMPLETE IMMUNITY if they injure local residents, directly contradicting recent legislation.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeal Dismisses Katrina Death Claims

The Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeal, located in New Orleans, ruled that the federal government cannot be held liable for deaths of three elderly people during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeal found the federal government was "shielded" from liability, although the government ADMITTED it didn't render aid in the wake of the storm.

Attorneys for family members of the victims had claimed the government should not be protected because it negligently failed to provide even the most basic aid to victims.

Making a mistake is one thing; "gross neglect," political opportunism, and political retribution is entirely another thing. Here the federal government didn't "just make a mistake;" Louisiana suffered a "political abortion" after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Alan Sayre, New Orleans Times-Picayune 01/22/2009 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune