From headache medicine to cough syrup, consumers trust over-the-counter medicines to be safe. Because we trust the government to properly regulate these products, consumers may assume they are always safe. This misunderstanding can lead to deadly consequences.
Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs let us easily access medicines that are safe to use without a doctor having to prescribe them. According to the FDA, more than 100,000 OTC drugs are available to consumers, made up of some combination of approximately 800 specific medications. Not only must shoppers take care to use these medicines as directed, they must also be vigilant about watching for recalls.
Safe Use of OTC Medicines is Vital
Overdosing on OTC medications is common. Many consumers fail to carefully read labels when administering medication to themselves or their children. They may also fail to realize that a second medicine, designed for different symptoms, may contain the same active ingredient. Taking two medicines with the same ingredient can easily lead to overdose, illness and sometimes death.
Taking care to read labels is a protective step within each consumer’s control, but what happens when medications are defective? Continue reading
Whether it is a cough, a cold or a fever, many over-the-counter drugs are readily available to treat an ailing child’s symptoms. As a parent, the natural inclination is to give your child whatever they need to make them feel better, but what happens when presumably safe drugs turn out to have a deadly effect?
A Tragic Loss
When two-year-old River Moore developed a fever, his mother gave him a dose of Very Berry Strawberry Children’s Tylenol, according to the Montgomery News. A mere two hours later, unexpected tragedy struck when the River Moore’s liver failed, and he died in the hospital.
The Resulting Lawsuit
Daniel and Katy Moore have filed suit against Johnson & Johnson, blaming the medication for their son’s death. The lawsuit includes Johnson & Johnson, McNeil-PPC and Costco Wholesale Corp, all of which the Moores allege participated in a “phantom recall” of defective products in 2010. The lawsuit claims that all companies and executives involved knew the defects of the medications but neglected to make the public aware of the potentially dangerous effects and instead issued a “stealth” recall to avoid publicity. The Moores seek compensatory and punitive damages from the defendants for the loss of their son.
McNeil Issues Recall of Children’s Tylenol
According to the McNeil Product Recall website, a recall of certain Infants’ and Children’s Tylenol was issued on April 30, 2010. Continue reading
Most parents will agree that their number one priority is keeping their kids safe and healthy. In today’s world, that can be difficult to do when faulty products may result in injury or even death. Although many organizations, both public and private, work to help parents prevent harm, there are still other entities that put sales before safety.
Britax Issues Car Seat Recall
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal Online, a car seat manufacturer has issued a recall of more than 14,000 child safety seats. The recall was issued by Britax Child Safety, Inc. for certain Chaperone infant restraint systems. According the Britax Chaperone seat recall website, the clip used to secure the harness across the infant’s shoulders was improperly manufactured. As a result, the clip is more brittle than expected and may break.
A broken clip could result in lacerations to the child’s skin or could be a choking hazard. Causing most concern is the possibility that if the clip holding the harness were to break during a collision, the child could be thrown from the seat. For more information on how to receive a repair kit or to return your Chaperone car seat, visit the Britax recall website.
IKEA Issues Recall for High Chairs
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently released notice of a voluntary recall for repair of IKEA ANTILOP high chairs. Continue reading
Sidney Wolfe, M.D., cofounded one of Public Citizen’s five policy groups, Health Research Group, with Ralph Nader in 1971 and currently acts as the group’s director. Public Citizen is known as a champion of consumer rights. Wolfe created the website, WorstPills.org, and is a co-author of Worst Pills, Best Pills: A Consumer’s Guide to Avoiding Drug-Induced Death or Illness, as well as two other bestsellers. He and his team of experts have devoted their careers to researching the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and to standing against corruption to protect consumers from harmful or deadly drugs.
Dishonesty in the FDA
Dr. Wolfe is concerned with the way the FDA operates. He asserts that the FDA has become increasingly reckless in the manner in which it approves drugs and makes them available to consumers. Wolf is credited with helping remove 16 drugs —products he deemed unsafe for the average consumer — from the market. In an interview with PBS’s Frontline, Wolfe said, “The sad thing is these were preventable. They could have been avoided. In most, if not all of the cases, there were strong danger signals even before the drug came on the market that there was a problem.”
Health Research Group’s Role
Health Research Group now maintains Dr. Wolfe’s efforts. The organization works to protect consumers from fraud and exploitation within the healthcare sector. Continue reading
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Judge David Herndon postponed the first in a series of cases involving the pharmaceutical giant Bayer. In an effort to settle matters outside of court, the Illinois district judge has instructed both sides to meet with a court-appointed mediator. The drug company is accused of knowingly marketing Yaz and Yasmin as safer than other birth control pills, despite evidence to the contrary. Bayer’s Yasmin family of birth control pills contains the hormone drospirenone, which is alleged to cause dangerous and blood clots that can prove fatal.
The First of Many
The drug company is facing a surge of lawsuits over claims that it misled women about the health risks associated with its Yasmin family of oral contraceptives. Judge Herndon will be overseeing the thousands of impending cases involving Bayer. Multitudes of women are suing Bayer for compensation over injuries allegedly caused by the contraceptive Yaz.
The lawyers representing women suing Bayer can let the statistics speak for themselves. Continue reading
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, poisoning has become the leading cause of injury death.
- In 2008, more than 41,000 people died from poisoning in the U.S.
- Almost 90 percent of poisoning deaths (36,500 fatalities) were caused by drugs.
- Most drug-related deaths are caused by illegal drugs, such as crack cocaine and methamphetamine, but more than 40 percent of all drug fatalities in 2008 involved prescription opioid analgesics.
Analgesics are painkillers, and opioids include the prescription medications OxyContin, Percocet, oxycodone, Vicodin and others. They treat pain by preventing certain nerve signals from reaching the brain. Unfortunately for many, opioids also change the way the brain processes the nerve signals that do get through. These nerve signals create a strong, addictive sense of euphoria. An opioid can also cause an overwhelming psychological compulsion to use the drug. People who develop this addiction often take the drug in higher and higher dosages, administer it in alternative and dangerous ways or use it in combination with other substances. These behaviors often cause poisoning and death.
Without medical precautions, patients can easily become physically dependent on these medicines. Continue reading
With the growth of giant corporations, greed and corruption, class action lawsuits are rising in number to fight them. Intended to help the “common man” or the “little guy,” class action lawsuits are one of the few protections available to American consumers when federal and state laws fail to defend them.
The Ohio State Bar Association defines a class action lawsuit as “a lawsuit in state or federal court that is brought by one individual, or a few individuals, on behalf of a larger class of people similarly situated.” The group may have similar wrongs and damages, such as:
- People who have been hurt by defective products, such as parents of children who were harmed by malfunctioning toys or people who were injured using a particular product
- Victims of unsafe drugs that cause complications such as illnesses, permanent injury or even death
- Employees bringing action against an employer for a common complaint
- Residents in a specific geographical area who have been harmed by environmental pollution
A class action lawsuit typically seeks some type of compensation for the harm that has come to members of the class. Often, the claims of each individual are not large enough to justify expensive litigation, but by combining all the small dollar claims of a bigger group of people, the expense of litigation can be justified.
Class Action Lawsuits Common
American corporations have a duty to increase profits every year. Sometimes, they cut corners on consumer protections and safety to reach their profit goals. Because of this, class actions are common.
Without class action lawsuits, companies could harm consumers and face no consequences. Continue reading
The popular pharmaceutical company Pfizer chose to settle in a recent civil case involving three Pennsylvania women who developed breast cancer after taking menopause drugs manufactured by the company.
The Philadelphia Enquirer’s Philly.com reports that during the compensatory phase of the trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs, Susan Elfont, Bernadette Kalenkoski and Judy Mulderig. The jury awarded these women a combined total of $72.6 million in damages. The three women involved in this case represent only a few of the thousands who have filed similar suits against Pfizer or one of its subsidiaries. Before punitive damages could be assessed against Pfizer, the drug company settled with the three women for an undisclosed amount.
Civil Trials: Compensatory Versus Punitive Damages
When most people think of court cases, criminal trials often come to mind. In a criminal lawsuit, the jury decides whether an offender is guilty of a certain crime. If the defendant is found guilty, punishments typically include imprisonment, fines or even execution.
On the other hand, if a defendant is found guilty during a civil trial, there is no threat of imprisonment. Instead, the guilty defendant must compensate the plaintiff for any losses their actions may have caused. Furthermore, the defendant can also be found guilty of committing “personal wrongdoings” under the law.
As such, these cases are typically composed of two phases. During the first (compensatory) phase, the jury decides on the amount owed to the plaintiff as reimbursement for any injuries sustained. This amount is meant to cover any medical costs, lost wages, or pain and suffering experienced by the victim. During the punitive phrase of the trial, the same jury decides if the defendant should face further financial punishment, making an example out of their behavior.
Why Pfizer Decided to Settle
Pfizer’s decision to settle came the day before the punitive phase of the civil trial was scheduled to begin. Continue reading
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that pharmaceutical giant Merck will enter a guilty plea to charges of illegally promoting Vioxx, a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drug. The company will pay $950 million in fines and penalties to the US government and individual states. The case is yet another example of pharmaceutical companies gaming the system, hoping they will never be caught.
Forbes reported on the settlement as well, noting Merck’s response that the civil area of the settlement does not include any admission of wrongdoing or liability on the company’s part.
Improper Branding of Vioxx
The plea was connected to Merck’s promotion of Vioxx for rheumatoid arthritis from 1999 to 2002. The settlement also covers Merck’s fraudulent statements to Medicaid regarding the cardiovascular safety of Vioxx. The plea agreement outlines payments of $321,636,000 in criminal fines for those illegal activities. Merck will pay $628,364,000 for improper marketing of the drug and the balance of $201,975,000 will go to the various Medicaid states affects by Merck’s improper actions.
The criminal portion of the plea involves improper branding of the prescription drug Vioxx. Continue reading
Coal mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Even mining for metal is safer than coal mining because coal is an explosive material. Because of the explosive properties in coal, there are safety regulations to keep coal miners safe. Unfortunately, employers do not always follow these rules, resulting in coalmining disasters and the tragic deaths of workers.
Worse, coal-mining companies often focus on ways to locate trapped miners after a collapse, rather than investing in the more expensive procedures and equipment needed to prevent them in the first place.
The Disregard of Safety Regulations
The safety directors employed by these companies are fully aware of the risks involved, yet have done little to improve the safety of miners, and in some cases, even lied when questioned by federal regulators. A New York Times article points out such an example. The safety director employed at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia has been convicted of lying to federal regulatory investigators. He ordered the destruction of records of hazardous conditions at the mine. This mine is the site where 29 miners were killed in 2010. Massey Energy, owners of the mine, refused to do anything about the hazardous conditions. They only seemed interested in boosting their profits instead of ensuring the safety of the miners.
Safety Precautions Would Have Saved Lives
Nearly six years after a Sago mining accident in West Virginia, the Charleston Gazette reports that the remaining lawsuits filed by the families of those who were wrongfully killed in the explosion have been resolved. Continue reading