Articles Posted in Pharmaceutical Injuries

Baxter International was sued in a second wave of multidistrict litigation filed by hemophiliacs who alleged that they contracted HIV or Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products. Baxter paid $15 million to settle the lawsuits and then filed its own lawsuit against Axa Versicherung and a German insurance company for indemnification.

During discovery, Axa demanded that the lawyers handling the insurance coverage matter for Baxter turn over its memos and e-mails that it delivered to it. Baxter blacked out or redacted the lawyer’s analysis of insurance coverage issues in the production material it did produce. In other words, Baxter decided to edit the discovery it produced, saying that Axa was not entitled to the legal analysis found in some of the e-mails and memos.

Axa’s motion to compel relied on the Illinois Supreme Court opinion in Waste Management v. International Surplus Lines Insurance Co., 144 Ill.2d 178 (1991), which ruled that attorney-client privilege did not apply to the insured’s communications with its counsel about the underlying tort litigation.

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A U.S. district court judge has rejected the attempts of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. to overturn the combined $9 billion punitive-damage award that a jury recently returned. The verdict came down in a case that involved claims that the drug makers chose to hide the cancer risks of their Actos diabetes drug. The presiding judge held that the jury properly considered evidence that showed officials of the Osaka, Japan-based Takeda, and Indianapolis-based Lily had advance knowledge that Actos was associated with bladder cancer and chose not to properly and efficiently warn doctors and patients about those risks.

However, although the judge upheld the jury’s verdict, the judge is still considering another motion that was brought post-trial by the defendants for a new trial. That motion is pending for a case of Terrence Allen v. Takeda, et al., which was the first federal trial over claims that Actos causes bladder cancer.

The widespread sales of the Actos pharmaceutical product reached its highest level on March 2011 when the product had sales of $4.5 billion and accounted for 27% of Takeda’s revenue in total. Since the time Actos was released by Takeda in 1999, it had made sales in excess of $16 billion. Today Takeda must contend with generic competition from other drug makers.

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The Paxil drug maker, GlaxoSmithKline, LLC (GSK) is defending product-liability lawsuits in Chicago’s federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois. GSK manufactures the antidepressant Paxil, which is the brand-name of paroxetine hydrochloride.

In one of the many lawsuits that are pending, a 2010 suicide took place just six days after the man started to take the generic version of Paxil. The wife of the decedent filed a lawsuit in federal court under diversity jurisdiction against GSK and Mylane, who is the maker of paroxetine, which was part of the medicine taken by the decedent.

The lawsuit alleged that the paroxetine label used at the time of the decedent’s death failed to warn users of an increased risk of suicide in adults.

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The U.S. Justice Department reached a settlement with Johnson & Johnson, which is the maker of Risperdal. The settlement of $2.2 billion and a misdemeanor plea comes after a long investigation into the marketing of the pharmaceutical product, Risperdal. It is an anti-psychotic drug known to deliver harmful side effects, especially to young boys and young men most often prescribed the medicine.

In this case, the Department of Justice engaged several whistleblowers around the country to help the investigation and act as Johnson & Johnson informants. In fact, collectively, the whistleblowers will receive upwards of $167 million for their efforts.

The whistleblowers took great risk in assisting the Department of Justice in this investigation. Some of the whistleblowers went undercover, wore a wire, helped in prepping the department lawyers for depositions and otherwise risked their livelihood and their careers.

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A settlement agreement that includes claims of more than 1,200 plaintiffs in federal and state courts has been reached with Merck & Co. Inc. to pay $27.7 million related to the bone drug Fosamax. Fosamax has been claimed to have caused a condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw. Osteonecrosis is a serious bone disease first associated with high doses of bisphosphanates used for oncology patients. Even lower doses of bisphosphanates have been associated with this condition. Fosamax contains some of this product used for patients with bone disorders, such as osteoporosis.

The settlement was reached after a district court judge handling the multidistrict litigation (MDL) ordered 200 cases per month sent back to their home courts for further disposition and trial. None of the transfers had occurred before the settlement was reached. 

This litigation began in 2005 with seven bellwether trials having gone to jury verdicts. Merck was successful in winning five of those cases, but also lost two cases in which the verdicts were $285,000 and $8 million. The latter verdict was later reduced to $1.5 million. This settlement does not include another set of cases alleging that Fosamax causes femur fractures.  Those claims are in a separate multidistrict litigation federal court and are still pending.

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Federal District Court Judge Hon. David R. Herndon of the Southern District of Illinois has ordered that Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (BIPI) pay $1 million in sanctions for discovery abuses in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving the oral anticoagulant Predaxa. This same U.S. Federal District Court, also in the Southern District of Illinois, is where many of the country’s  Yasmin and YAZ (Drospirenone)  birth control injury cases are being handled; also in an MDL.

Judge Herndon found that BIPI, the maker of Predaxa, had chosen not to produce thousands of documents to the plaintiffs, which the judge determined was bad-faith conduct. 

According to the order, BIPI and its German parent company were unable to explain why it chose not to produce critical documents and communications by a deadline set by the judge. The deadline was in June 2012. 

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The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court has dismissed appeals by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in its attempt to reverse a jury verdict of $8.6 million, which included a very sizable sum for punitive damages. A lawsuit originated in a claim against Wyeth as to its menopause drug, Prempro, which has been associated with women developing breast cancer.  Wyeth had asked the state’s Supreme Court to overturn the September 2013 punitive damages verdict. Wyeth argued that the verdict should be invalidated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) earlier approval of the drug for safe use. 

Wyeth maintained that the appellate court had erred in reinstating the jury verdict that was entered by a Philadelphia jury in 2007 for Mary Daniel, who claimed that the Prempro menopause drug caused her breast cancer. 

Following that jury verdict, the punitive damages were tacked onto a compensatory damage award of $1.7 million.  Ms. Daniel and her husband were the plaintiffs in the case. 

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Metal-on-metal artificial hips were originally thought to be more durable and longer lasting than the traditional hip implants. It was believed that the mechanical hip implants would reduce wear and lower the rates of failure and dislocation. With the advent of multiple medical studies, it was found that metal-on-metal hips were no more reliable than the traditional hip implants. However, danger of metal-on-metal hip implants subjected patients to severe side effects. One of those side effects is metallosis poisoning.

Many of the metal-on-metal hip implants contain cobalt and chromium;  when broken down in the blood stream, these can cause irreversible damage to patients. The metal-on-metal hip implants, when in regular use, grind or shred metallic particles into the surrounding body tissues  and spread throughout the bloodstream. It was found in 2010 that cobalt and chromium ions were frequently found in the blood and urine of hip implant patients. Metallosis destroys the surrounding tissue. 

In addition, the metallic particles can lodge in other organs of the body. It has been reported that metallic particles have been found in bone marrow, in the liver, kidneys and bladder. In fact, studies have revealed that high levels of metallic ions in the body can increase the risk of different cancers.

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According to a recent study and a New York Times report, dietary supplements containing high concentrations of green tea extract result in up to 20 percent of liver injuries in patients who turn up in hospitals. This new data was analyzed by a national network of liver specialists. 

Dietary supplements are regularly purchased at nutrition stores promising weight loss or build up of muscle mass.  Many who take dietary supplements are young, but the studies show that middle-aged women and men are also often buying these products. 

Americans spend $32 billion a year on dietary supplements. The dietary supplement distribution is by and large unregulated. 

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Nursing home residents often develop pneumonia. Pneumonia is a common infection that is too often deadly in the elderly. Pneumonia is just one of the many medical ailments that afflict nursing home residents. Family practice physicians taking care of elderly residents often prescribe a variety of different medications with different dosages. 

Administrations of medication is the responsibility of the nursing home and its personnel. Frequently, the medication prescribed is not given in the correct dosages, which can be harmful or deadly to residents. Some residents can develop toxicity symptoms from overdosing with prescribed medication. The overdosing of prescription medicine can lead to side effects such as shortness of breath, other complications and even death.

Nursing home residents and families must be aware of all medication prescribed to the resident. To double check what nursing home personnel is prescribing, it would be appropriate to ask if the medicine given is correctly dosed.  That question should be posed often, especially if family members notice a change in dosage or in the medication itself.

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