BP’s Corexit poisons all

The Government Bio HazardAccountability Project  (GAP) reports that whistleblowers throughout the Gulf of Mexico have revealed that British Petroleum’s use of Corexit (which is banned in BP’s home country, England) has caused devastating, long-term health effects for human beings and decimated ocean life. (Visit whistleblower.org)

GAP writes: “Our report – relying on over 25 whistleblowers from the region – concludes that the use of dispersant by BP and the federal government actually made the long-term effects of the spill on the Gulf and its residents worse, creating environmental and public health hazards on an incomprehensible scale.”



Wells Fargo scams Customers

wells-fargoWells Fargo scams Customers. Wells Fargo was ordered by a federal judge in May 2013 to pay $203 million for a checking scam. The class action case accused Wells Fargo of imposing excessive overdraft fees and of misleading its customers in order to collect on more overdrafts. The bank stands accused of processing purchases from the largest to the smallest rather than in chronological order in order to trigger more overdraft fees, which were excessive anyway, at $25-$35 a pop.

Lawyer Richard McCune, who represented about one million current and former Wells Fargo customers in California, said, “Wells Fargo was profiting off its most vulnerable customers, and this (decision) holds the banks accountable.”



Topamax Timeline

The following is a timeline of events in the discovery of Topamax symptoms of side effects (birth defects) in infants:

1979 – Topamax is developed by Ortho-McNeil Neurologics and Noramco, Inc. – both divisions of Johnson & Johnson

1996 – Topamax is approved for treatment of epileptic seizures

1997 – Study by North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry begins

2001 – Possible link between Topamax and blindness or glaucoma

2004 – Topamax is approved for treatment of migraine headaches

2006 – Generic topiragen is approved

2008 – (April) Link between Topamax and birth defects (cleft palate) – study published in American Academy of Neurology

2009 – Topamax patent expires and generic forms of the drug flood the marketplace



Accutane Update

Pharmaceutical litigation can be notoriously slow to move forward but rarely has the normal snail’s pace of justice moved as slowly as it is still moving in the Accutane litigation. Defendant Hoffmann-la Roche has done everything legally possible to delay this litigation, now nearly eight years in the making. In one of the latest legal ploys, toward the end of 2012, Hoffmann-la Roche requested that Judge Carol Higbee be removed from overseeing the Accutane litigation in New Jersey. This request caused a significant delay and detour in the New Jersey litigation.

After several months of briefing and arguing the issues, the Court decided to deny the defendant pharmaceutical company’s request because it is without merit.  That decision has been appealed by the defendants, but we at Matthews & Associates remain hopeful it will be affirmed by the appellate court within the next several months so that more cases can proceed to trial.

During this same time period, the defendants in California requested that the litigation be consolidated before a new Judge.  In that regard, we were successful in keeping the California litigation in front of Judge Freeman, who has significant experience overseeing pharmaceutical litigation cases.

Stay tuned to our web site as we will try to relay further developments as soon they occur.


ARBs Cancer Link: FDA Dispute

Bucking his superior at the FDA, a senior regulator is questioning the safety of the top-selling class – ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers) – of blood pressure drugs.

Patients take these medicines daily in hopes of reducing their risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure. ARBs on the market in the U.S. include candesartan (Atacand), eprosartan (Teveten), irbesartan (Avapro), telmisartan (Micardis), valsartan (Diovan), losartan (Cozaar), and olmesartan (Benicar).

Dr. Thomas A. Marciniak of the FDA is seeking stronger warnings about these drugs, according to internal documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and printed in that publication Saturday.

Dr. Marciniak argues that the drugs – which generated $7.6 billion in U.S. sales in 2012 – may be linked to higher cancer rates. He is not alone in his view, but a top FDA official disagrees, saying evidence does not support a link.



Z-pack FDA Warnings

Z-pack – azithromycin – could lead to deadly heart rhythms

The popular antibiotic Azithromycin could trigger a potentially deadly irregular heart rhythm for some patients, the FDA warned in March 2013.

Sold as Zithromax, Zmax,  a “Z-Pack” is prescribed to treat bacterial infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and more.

The FDA has warned that the pills can cause abnormal changes in the heart’s electrical activity that could lead to a fatal heart rhythm. Patients at greatest risk are those with known risk factors such as existing QT interval prolongation, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or those who use  certain drugs to treat abnormal heart rhythms.

In a March 12, 2013 update, the FDA stated: “Health care professionals should consider the risk of fatal heart rhythms with azithromycin when considering treatment options for patients who are already at risk for cardiovascular events.”



Judge overturns $6.5 Million Verdict

It’s a wonder we even bother to hold trials anymore. In the latest miscarriage of justice, a California judge overturned the verdict of a six-week jury trial by accepting defense arguments that an expert whom the jury had seen interrogated in court was not qualified to determine that Actos had caused plaintiff Jack  Cooper’s bladder cancer.

On May 1, Judge Kenneth Freeman overturned $6.5 million dollar jury verdict (entered on April 26) for plaintiff Jack Cooper in Cooper vs. Takeda  (Cooper v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc., CGC-12-518535, California Superior Court, Los Angeles). Freeman granted two key Takeda’s motions which lead to his reversal.

Freeman granted Takeda’s motion to exclude the opinions of Dr. Norm Smith, the plaintiff’s causation expert who had hypothesized that Actos was a substantial causal factor in Mr. Cooper’s bladder cancer.  Granting that motion meant that no opinion supported the cancer causation finding; so the judge then granted Takeda’s motion for non suit, which threw out the verdict.



Actos Verdict: $6.5 Million

First Actos Trial

A Los Angeles jury on April 26, 2013 found Takeda liable for injuries that included bladder cancer suffered by a former Pacific Bell telephone cable splicer, Jack Cooper. The jury returned a verdict of $6.5 million (Cooper v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc., CGC-12-518535, California Superior Court, Los Angeles).

Jury deliberations lasted eight days following testimony before Judge Kenneth Freeman in Los Angeles Superior Court. The jury found defendants’ failed to provide adequate warnings about Actos’  dangers, and that Takeda’s Actos was a substantial factor in Mr. Cooper’s injuries.  The jury also awarded $1.5 million for loss of consortium.  Cooper was diagnosed with bladder cancer in November 2011 after taking Actos for diabetes for more than two years.

Evidence in the nearly two-month trial revealed in-house emails in which Takeda executives urged colleagues to persuade the U.S. FDA not to demand increased bladder cancer warnings on Actos’ label.



Secure your own Pharmacy, Medical Records

When Matthews & Dangerous-drugs-offAssociates signs up a client for a potential new drug or medical device case and receives the necessary paperwork to act on a client’s behalf, the law firm makes every effort to obtain that new clients’ medical and prescription drug records. But all law firms are, for practical purposes, at the mercy of  hospitals, doctors and pharmacy custodians to provide the relevant records.  Therefore, a law firm cannot guarantee any records it orders will arrive in a timely fashion. Consequently, anything  clients can do to obtain pharmacy or medical records could only help the potential case.

Record Purging threatens Drug Cases

Drug and healthcare providers are tending to purge their records faster all the time, claiming space issues, though text takes up remarkably little computer space. Record keeping entities used to hold recortds for ten years or longer; now many purge them in as little as five years, some in as little as three years.


Records Lost to Natural Disaster

For whatever reason, it often seems record keepers only grudgingly cooperate with plaintiffs’ law firms. Foot dragging is the norm. Most records plaintiffs’ firms order take several months to arrive. In that interim, those records may have been purged, or even lost or destroyed in a natural disaster. When Hurricane Katrina blew threw New Orleans, it left more than 16 feet of water standing in some hospitals, permanently wiping out medical records for many people who had potential cases. Some potential Vioxx clients, as a result, were unable to prove that they were ever prescribed Vioxx, or that they had suffered an injury associated with the drug.

No Guarantees in This Life

There are no guarantees in this life, but one thing is clear: It is always best to obtain medical and prescription drug record evidence as soon as possible. Ideally, it is best to ask for a copy of records for each medical visit when leaving a medical facility, and to save prescription drug records as you fill prescriptions.





Statins harm more than help People

The jury is in: Statins are Bad News

Statins harm more Lipitorpeople than they help. According to a  recent study of millions of statin users, cholesterol-lowering  drugs are over prescribed, over hyped, over advertised and much more dangerous than conventional wisdom implies.  Big Pharma (with $33 Billion in statin sales worldwide last year – Lipitor alone made $13.6 million) touts statins as “miracle” drugs that prevent heart attacks and strokes. But a study published in the British Medical Journal documents statin users who suddenly or gradually lost their minds, muscle, liver or eyesight.  (See study analysis and potential alternatives.)