Medical Research Continues to Lose Integrity

Senator Charles E. Grassley has raised some serious concern over a recent article published in the Elsevier Medical Journal. The Senator has asked the publisher to investigate an article written on hormone replacement therapy, believing that it was improperly “ghostwritten” by a drug company promoting their products. The article was part of an editor’s choice section in Elsevier’s Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

In an article signed by Dr. John Eden of Australia, Senator Grassley has found unethical promotions lacking scientific evidence. At the heart of the controversy is the drug company Wyeth. Mr. Grassley, a member of the Senate Finance Committee who is investigating drug company influence on doctors, contends that Wyeth commissioned the articles and had them ghostwritten by a medical writing firm. Only after the articles were conceived and under way did the firm line up doctors to put their names on them, Mr. Grassley contends.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Drug companies have been forcing their will on medical research results for decades now, and the influence of corporate profit is on the rise. By 2006, Drug companies were spending nearly twice as much on advertising and marketing as they were on the research and testing needed to ensure the safety of a new product.

Mr. Grassley’s investigation shows how results of this corporate policy can be catastrophic. A landmark federal study has linked Wyeth’s Prempro hormone product to breast cancer in women. What does the expert testimony sponsored by Wyeth say about that taxpayer funded study? Dr. Eden’s controversial article states that, “there was no definitive evidence that the [Wyeth] hormones caused breast cancer.”

It seems the Wyeth Corporation and Dr. Eden have forgotten the meaning of the Hippocratic oath.

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Chamber of Commerce Torches the Economy and Asks for Refund

Like the child who kills his parents and then begs for mercy because he is an orphan, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce now is begging President-elect Barack Obama to protect corporate interests in the nation’s civil litigation system as a way of restoring jobs and bolstering an economy shattered largely (as we now know) by corporate greed and misfeasance. – Andrew Cohen, CBS
Unbelievable.  After decades of corruption, greed, and lack of responsibility to the public, the corporate machine has been exposed as the true cause of the economic plunge we are currently facing.  And what do they want in return?  For the government to shield them from the system put in place for the very purpose of enforcing that responsibility. 

 

Here is what the president of the Chamber of Commerce’s legal arm wrote in an open letter to Obama: “We understand the critical necessity of revitalizing the economy by restoring American jobs, encouraging the growth of U.S. businesses, and protecting the savings and investments of millions of Americans. However, we are concerned that the potential expansion of legal liability significantly impairs these much needed steps toward a national recovery.”

In a desperate attempt to plead for mercy to the new President-Elect, The chamber of commerce is merely renewing an argument that has failed for decades.  The Chamber has been pushing tirelessly for almost half a century now to rein in plaintiffs’ attorneys (who look to punish corporate negligence or fraud with civil lawsuits), deregulate industry and commerce (we all know how well Wall Street did with its freedom), and nullify important consumer protection laws (like the one in Maine which is allowing smokers to go after tobacco companies for false advertising).History has shown us how devastatingly successful the Corporate interest machine can be.  Because of the Chamber’s organization, innocently named The Institute for Legal Reform, the Securities and Exchange Commission backed off its scrutiny of screwy deals and schemes, the Congress was lax in its oversight of the mortgage industry, litigators were thwarted or punished, and the White House and Justice Department pushed a legal doctrine (“preemption”) that almost always helped employers over employees. 

Results such as this put public interest on the loosing side.  The American legal system over the past 20 years has been a victim of unremitting advances for the Chamber and its fellow travelers in law, politics and governance. The Chamber has labeled “abusive litigation” as the cause of almost every economic problem to face the modern United States.  Could the lawyers who enforce corporate responsibility truly is the cause every economic disaster of our modern economy? 

 

 CBS Correspondent and Attorney Andrew Cohen thinks not:

Plaintiffs’ attorneys aren’t responsible for the mortgage-fueled economic meltdown. Class-action litigation isn’t, either. And don’t blame overzealous regulators or greedy employees who want better pay or conditions in their own factories. The people with whom the Chamber and the Institute do battle are not the people who invented or allowed the great pyramid schemes, which brought down Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. They did not force consumers to spend more than they earned or save less than they should. Corporate America is directly responsible for what has just happened to corporate America, and if you don’t believe me, ask the folks at Ford, GM and Chrysler.The economic meltdown came about because business interests were able to greatly decrease the vital tensions between industry and regulation, between oversell and oversight. And it will take the restoration of those tensions by government leaders not just to help bring us out of our slump but to help ensure that the next downturn doesn’t come again for a long time.
The more the chamber of commerce attempts to deregulate the market and further bolster its litigation shield, the farther away we get from turning around the current economic crisis. 

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Willow Crest Manor Shut Down by Department of Public Works

Residents of Philadelphia and Willow Grove were appalled to find out that their local nursing homes, Willow Crest Manor, was being shut down by the Department of Public Works.  The DPW was quick to pull the plug on the home after investigations in to two suspicious deaths uncovered gross negligence and massive rule violations. 

The list of egregious violations included the administration of recalled drugs after the date of the recall, the distribution of medicine to its customers by unlicensed and under trained employees, and the use of prescription drugs without a doctor’s orders.  The DPW found that medicines given to residents weren’t being recorded, often resulting in patients receiving over or under doses of their life saving medication.  One resident said that after he told the staff he needed insulin, they did not provide it to him, forcing him to inject it himself while unsupervised.

The deaths of a 49-year old woman and a 24-year-old man with cerebral palsy found dead in his bed have resulted from similar violations.  It was obvious that residents at Willow Crest were in immediate and serious danger. The DPW ordered that all 51 residents, about half of who are elderly and most of whom suffer from mental illness, be evacuated and relocated at once.

Willow Crest Manor was among many major homes in the Philadelphia metropolitan area under scrutiny by the DPW.  There seems to be a common link between them all however: Owner Annand P Mittal.  The DPW has been finding serious state violations at his other agencies—including Southampton Manor in Bucks County, and Diston Manor and Adelphia in Philadelphia—that have caused them to ban his operating licenses.

Evidence from around the state and the rest of the country has highlighted that this is not an isolated problem.  Many privately owned for-profit nursing homes have been subject to criticism due to excessive negligence and rule violations.  Thankfully the Department of Public Works has done the right thing, however they certainly wont be able to remedy the damages already dealt by Willow Crest and other facilities like it.   If you know someone who has been a victim of the Willow Crest Manor or any other Pennsylvania or New Jersey nursing homes, please contact the Law Firm of John Mininno. There are legal remedies to help your family.

Related Information:

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The Secret Relationship of Medical Researchers and Pharmaceutical Companies

Finally, congress is investigating the giant pharmaceutical company’s corrupt research practices.  In the drug business, promoting health and safety should be priority number one.  Unfortunately, it is merely a distant second.  In the pharmaceutical industry, making money supersedes science. Some even go as far as claiming that drug makers have become a billion dollar empire not because of research and science, but rather from slick marketing and deceit.  This claim has some validity since the drug companies spend almost twice as much on the marketing of their drugs then on the development of their drugs.

 Some also argue that many drugs are over-prescribed, and that drug companies’ huge profits are often spent developing and advertising expensive designer drugs (such as Viagra) instead of life-saving medications. But now, even the effectiveness of the drugs is being called in to question by the on going congressional inquiry.  Presently, Congress is learning that the drug makers have paid millions of dollars in cash and other benefits to the very doctors who are supposed to be independently testing these drugs.  Rarely will such a doctor bite the hand that feeds them.  Even more insidious, the drug companies employ thousands of foreign-born chemists who are in the US on a work visa.  Their career allows them and their family the right to live and work in the U.S.  This demands allegiance to their employer and many suspect that end result of their research reflects this allegiance.

Perhaps the most alarming discovery of the investigation however points towards the work of Dr. Joseph Beiderman.  Dr Beiderman, one of the world’s most renowned child psychologists at the Harvard Medical School, apparently failed to report to Harvard University that he had received at least $1.4 million in personal income from drug companies.  It was also found that Dr. Biederman had asked a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary to provide him with almost $1 million to start a research center to, “move forward the commercial goals of J.& J.” As a front-runner in the field of psychology, Biederman was responsible for introducing a new era of using powerful, risky, and expensive antipsychotic medicines in young people. 

Hopefully, the present congressional investigation will lead to reforms for the pharmaceutical industry.  One reform would be to break the financial relationship and dependence of the medical profession to drug makers.  Others would be to hold drug makers accountable in a court of law for false advertising and marketing of drugs that harm patients.  The recent vioxx civil trials, which resulted in huge verdicts against the drug makers, is just one example of how effective this system works.  After a few juries heard the truth about this drug maker, and awarded appropriate damages, the vioxx maker quickly settled all the claims against it.  That result sent a strong message to the drug makers that they will be held accountable for deceit in the pursuit of profits.  Hopefully, congress will enact stricter and further reforms as well.  This will allow all of us to have confidence that the medicine we pay for and use has been fairly and legitimately tested by independent doctors and are benefiting our long term health. 

Happy Holidays!

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, here are a few simple but extremely helpful tips on making sure your Christmas tree is safe from the Children’s Safety Zone.

q A real tree should not lose green needles when you tap it on the ground.

q Cut 1 inch off the trunk to help absorb water.

q Leave the tree outside until ready to decorate.

q The stand should hold at least 1 gal. of water.

q A 6′ tree will use 1 gallon of water every two days.

q Mix a commercial preservative with the water.

q Check the water level every day.

q Secure the tree with wire to keep it from tipping.

q Keep tree away from floor heaters, fire places, or other heat sources.

q Use only UL-listed lights, and no more than 3 strands linked together.

q Use miniature lights–which have cool-burning bulbs.

q Turn off the Christmas lights when you sleep, or if you leave your home for very long.

q Never use candles, even on artificial trees.

q Clean the tree stand to improve the tree’s water intake, use one capful of bleach to a cup of water.

q Dispose of the tree properly.

Happy Holidays from the Mininno Law Office!

Child Accidents Raise Concern Over Automobile Safety

According to a global study performed by the World Health Organization and Unicef, it has been found that around the globe, accidents kill 830,000 children each year.  Over all, although 95 percent of all injuries to children occur in poor and middle-income countries, injuries account for 40 percent of all child deaths in rich ones – Including the United States.

Dr. Étienne Krug, director of injuries and violence prevention at the World Health Organization, believes this is because wealthier nations tend to not have much better child health care, but do not attempt to remedy the causes of childhood accidents.  In a recent article in the New York Times, Dr. Krug was quoted saying, “This is a huge public health problem, and it’s been ignored for a long time.  It’s a combination of ignorance about how big it is, and because of fatalism, of thinking, ‘Oh, it’s an accident, we can’t do anything about it.’ ”

The Center for Disease control reports that in the United States, accidents kill 12,175 children a year.   That is more than all diseases combined.  At the center of this statistic lies a fact, which many American law makers already know, but choose to ignore.  Automobile accidents claim the lives of many infants and toddlers, however by the time children reach their teenage years, automobile accidents instantaneously become the leading cause of death. 

In a New York Times article, Ileana Arias, The Center for Disease control’s chief of injury prevention, reports that the three changes that would save the most lives of American children would be for more states to pass “graduated driver’s license” laws, which forbid teenagers to drive at night or with teenage passengers, to enforce seat-belt laws on teenagers and to make all children younger than 8 ride in booster seats.

Currently however, these suggestions do not carry the power of the law.  They are however the best solution to an epidemic problem.  As Ms. Arias recommends, please keep your child in a booster seat until they reach the age of eight.  If you have a teenage driver, remember that they more than likely don’t share your priorities and equal judgment when it comes to driving.  Please talk to your teenagers often enough about the importance of the seatbelt, and the effects of distracted driving. 

If you or someone you know has been seriously hurt in an accident, please contact an attorney immediately. 

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Morphine, Dextroamphetamine, and Isosorbide added to the Ethex Recall

The Ethex Corporation has added three new drugs to its list of recently recalled products.  After Ethex discovered that their propafenone tablets were over-sized, it became evident that many other drugs being manufactured by the company were also over-sized. 

Isosorbide

Isosorbide is a drug used principally in the treatment of angina. It works by dilating the blood vessels in order to reduce blood pressure. All of the recalled Isosorbide Mononitrate tablets said they were 60mg on the bottle and were made by the ETHEX Corporation with expiration dates ranging from 12/2008 and 11/2009.

Recalled lot numbers: 63466, 66034, 67351, and 67354

Dextroamphetamine

Dextroamphetamine is a stimulant used to increase energy and decrease appetite.  The recalled Dextroamphetamine Sulfate came in 10mg pills with expiration dates ranging from 6/2009 to 5/2007. All were made by the ETHEX Corporation.

Recalled lot numbers: 73934, 75892, 77945, 81137, 86320.

Amphetamines are very dangerous drugs, especially when taken in excessive doses. If the batch number on your pill bottle matches any of the above recalled Dextroamphetamine batch numbers you should contact your doctor and/or pharmacists immediately.

Morphine

Two strengths of immediate release Morphine Sulfate and one strength of extended release Morphine Sulfate were recalled, all of them tablets made by the ETHEX Corporation. The two recalled Morphine immediate release pills were 15mg and 30mg. The recalled Morphine extended release pills were 15mg.  The recalled tablets come from any of the following lots with expiration dates ranging from 8/2009 to 3/2011.

Recalled Lot Numbers:

15mg Extended Release Morphine – 81175, 82514-16, 89660, 89664, 89667, 90249-51, 91687
15mg Immediate Release Morphine – 77852-54, 81746, 82519-20, 84113, 90276-78
30mg Immediate Release Morphine – 75093, 77855-57, 82297, 82521-22, 87239, 88925, 90288-98

Morphine is a highly potent and addictive drug in the opiate family. Like other opioids, such as heroin, morphine acts on the central nervous system to relieve pain. Morphine is highly addictive. Tolerance, physical and psychological dependence develops very rapidly. Overdosing on Morphine is very dangerous and can result in severe side effects, including death.

 If you or anyone you know is prescribed any of these drugs, please immediately check the manufacturer and lot number on your pill bottle.  Contact your physician immediately.  Even in the case that you don’t think you have a recalled prescription; call your pharmacy and physician to confirm. 

 If you or a family member has been hurt by any of the Ethex Corporation recalled drugs, please contact an attorney immediately.  You may be entitled to compensation. 

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DRUG ALERT : Ethex Corporation Recalls Overdosed Propafenone Tablets

As first reported on November 11th, there has been a Propafenone recall by the ETHEX Corporation because the pills may have been oversized, which could result in overdose of the drug Propafenone.

Three different strengths were recalled, all of them Propafenone HCI tablets made by the ETHEX Corporation. They were 150mg, 225mg and 300mg pills from any of the following lots with expiration dates ranging from 6/2009 to 3/2011.

Below are the recalled lot numbers:

150 mg – 73761, 78184, 79373, 81240, 81241, 81242, 83470, 84357, 90525, 90526
225 mg – 71720, 74831, 76014-15, 81243-45, 89731, 90527-29, 90657
300mg – 72834, 76016-18, 81246, 89092, 89732, 90530, 90532, and 91641-42

The 150 mg Propafenone Hydrochloride pills are white, scored round film coated tablets with “ETH” on one side and “331? with a bisect on the reverse. The 225 mg Propafenone Hydrochloride pills are white, scored round film coated tablets with “ETH” on one side and “332? with a bisect on the reverse. The 300 mg Propafenone Hydrochloride pills are white, scored round film coated tablets with “ETH” on one side and “333? with a bisect on the reverse. Life threatening consequences of overdosing on Propafenone Hydrochloride includes heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and dangerously low blood pressure.

If you or someone you know is prescribed Propafenone, please call your physician immediately.An overdose of this substance is very serious, and can cause severe harm.

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Insurance Company “frivolous defense” Tactics Add to American Economic Woes

For years, the insurance companies and their paid lobbyists have spent millions of dollars on public relations campaigns to make the phrase “frivolous lawsuit” a part of our vocabulary.As a result of the insurance industry’s systematic public relations campaign, potential jurors view every personal injury lawsuit as “frivolous”; the injured people who file a lawsuit– “cheats or scammers”; and the trial lawyers who represent them – “greedy” or “ambulance chasers.”Never before has our country seen an industry spend so much money so effectively to destroy a right that was guaranteed by our Founding Fathers. That is the right to have our civil disputes decided fairly and justly by a jury of our peers.As a result, statistics show that most lawsuits get dismissed and, for those that are not, the injured men, woman and children leave the courtroom without adequate compensation to care for the injuries inflicted upon them by wrongdoers. The insurance company lawyers do not need facts or evidence to win, they merely have to say, “here’s another frivolous lawsuit” and jurors respond as though they have been conditioned to respond by the insurance companies.

But, you never hear about “frivolous defenses.”Each year, there are hundreds of thousands of claims that are wrongfully denied. Despite the economic hardships every American is facing, insurance companies continue to use tactics that highlight their true colors.These tactics range from the denial of reasonable claims, creating confusing, all the way to delaying claims until the customer dies.

The tactics insurance companies use against consumers include:

·Denying Claims: Some of the nation’s biggest insurance companies – Allstate, AIG, and State Farm among others – have systematically denied valid claims in an attempt to boost their bottom lines. These companies have rewarded employees who successfully denied claims, replaced employees who would not, and when all else failed, engaged in outright fraud to avoid paying claims.

·Delaying until Death: Many insurance companies routinely delay claims, even going as far as to lock paperwork in safes, knowing full well that many policyholders will simply give up. In the words of one regulator, “the bottom line is that insurance companies make money when they don’t pay claims… They’ll do anything to avoid paying, because if they wait long enough, they know the policyholders will die.”

·Confusing Consumers: Insurance contracts are some of the densest and incomprehensible contracts a consumer is ever likely to see. More than half of all states have enacted “plain English” laws for consumer contracts, yet many Americans still do not fully understand the risks they are subject to.

·Discriminating By Credit Score: Insurance companies are increasingly using credit reports to dictate the premiums you pay, or whether you can even get insurance in the first place. The practice penalizes senior citizens with little credit, those who responsibly pay bills every month with cash or check, or those who have suffered financial crisis through no fault of their own.

·Abandoning the Sick: Health insurers looking to cut costs have taken to retroactively canceling, or rescinding, the policies of people whose conditions have become expensive to treat. Some insurance companies have even offered bonuses to employees who meet “cancellation goals” – cancer patients in the middle of chemotherapy have even been targeted.

·Canceling for a Call: Many people are rightly reluctant to make small claims on their home insurance for fear their insurance company will raise their premiums. But few realize that insurance companies often refuse to renew a policy just for making a phone call. Often, an insurance company will count an inquiry over the phone as the same as a claim, and then they will do everything in their power to drop you.

The insurance industry is a multi billion-dollar industry – with more money than most countries.With insurance companies not holding up their side of the deal, expect even the most miniscule claim to be a painful and aggravating process.In order to improve your bargaining power, you should always consider hiring legal representation to help you with your insurance claims.

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