February 21, 2013
For more than a decade, prescription drug abuse and addiction has been a growing problem in the United States. In 2010, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 22,134 lives were lost to drug overdoses involving prescription medications. These deaths accounted for 60 percent of all overdose deaths in the U.S. that year.
WRAL News explained that a majority of the reports involved the use of narcotic painkillers, such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. These drugs accounted for three out of four overdose deaths, while anti-anxiety medications were involved in roughly 30 percent of the cases examined.
Many believe the epidemic that is now sweeping the nation is being caused by doctors who are not watching what medications they give to patients closely enough. In fact, hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against doctors who allowed a Drug Injury to occur through negligently prescribing dangerous medications.
Experts believe the only way to curtail the problem is to create better drug monitoring systems that will link data and files between medical facilities and pharmacies. Other measures that were suggested include a thorough crackdown on “pill mills” where doctors indiscriminately prescribe large quantities of high-potency medications to patients.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys with HensonFuerst are here to help if you or a loved one have been harmed by a medication that was negligently prescribed by a doctor.
December 13, 2012
The North Carolina Attorney General’s office announced yesterday that drug manufacturing giant, Pfizer, has agreed to a settlement with 33 states in regards to claims the company practiced illegal marketing strategies. According to WFMY 2 News, the company will pay $42.9 million to settle the claims.
Roy Cooper, Attorney General for North Carolina, explained the company had promoted the medication Zyvox, which is an antibiotic used to treat pneumonia and difficult skin infections, as being more effective in curing these conditions than other similar medications without research to prove the claim. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned the company to stop before the lawsuit was filed.
Cooper added the company also marketed the medication, Lyrica, illegally by promoting the drug for a use in which the FDA had not approved it.
The agreement also ordered Pfizer to not promote its medications off-label or to make claims which cannot be substantiated. The company must also ensure its sales force is adhering to federal marketing regulations after allegations arose of incentive programs persuading doctors to prescribe Pfizer drugs.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers say that taking medications to cure conditions in which a drug has not been approved to treat has led to thousands of North Carolina Drug Injuries. Our firm is here to help if you have been harmed by a medication prescribed to you by a doctor.
Just when it seemed like the number of illnesses attributed to contaminated steroid injections was leveling off, there are reports of new–and serious–illnesses arising.
According to an article in The New York Times, patients recovering from the meningitis outbreak are being struck by a second illness: epidural abscess, an injection near the spine at the site where the drug was injected to treat neck or back pain. These pockets of localized infection are occurring even in patients who are taking powerful anti-fungal medications. So far, it seems that about one-third of meningitis survivors are also presenting with an abscess.
According to Dr. Lakshmi K. Halasyamani, the chief medical officer at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI:
“This is a significant shift in the presentation of this fungal infection, and quite concerning,” she said. “An epidural abscess is very serious. It’s not something we expected.”
She and other experts said they were especially puzzled that the infections could occur even though patients were taking drugs that, at least in tests, appeared to work against the fungus causing the infection, a type of black mold called Exserohilum.
The abscesses cause severe pain near the injection site, but because they are internal, they can only be diagnosed with an MRI scan.
A third illness is also starting to show up: arachnoiditis, a nerve inflammation near the spine that can cause intense pain, bladder problems, and numbness.
This all comes on the heels of one of the worst public heath disasters caused by a contaminated drug. To date, 395 people have developed fungal meningitis, and 29 people have died.
If you received a steroid injection in your neck or back sometime in the past three months, check with your doctor to make sure that you did not receive medicine from one of the contaminated vials. While doctors are supposed to have notified all their patients, some patients have not been reached.
If your injection was from one of the contaminated batches, and if you would like to explore your legal options, please feel free to contact HensonFuerst Attorneys at 1-800-4-LAWMED. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Second illness is infecting those struck by meningitis
Less than two weeks ago, we told you about the meningitis outbreak from spinal steroid injections. At that time, 105 people had developed meningitis, and 9 had died. The numbers have been steadily rising.
Now, 247 people have become ill, and 19 have died.
According to an article in the News & Observer, the infections seem to have been caused by three types of fungus–most of them a form of black mold. The steroid suspected to be the cause of the illnesses was made by the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, MA.
Now, officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say they are investigating other drugs made by the same company–another steroid and a solution used during heart surgery. Criminal investigators for the FDA visited the New England Compounding Center on Tuesday, and the government is preparing a case against the company.
According to an article in The New York Times, the FDA’s Criminal Investigation’s unit typically looks into suspected violations of federal laws meant to protect public health, including making and selling unapproved drugs, and illegally importing FDA-regulated products. The FDA isn’t saying exactly what they are looking for in their investigation, but for the victims of the contaminated steroid and their families, the investigation is coming way too late.
If you have been injured by a drug made by the New England Compounding Center or other company, and you would like to learn about your legal options, feel free to call HensonFuerst Attorneys at 1-800-4-LAWMED, or visit our website at www.lawmed.com/druginjury. If you have question, HensonFuerst is here to help.
To read the full article in the N&O, click here: Meningitis outbreak deaths rise to 19
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Investigators visit company tied to meningitis cases
October 11, 2012
The recent outbreak of fungal Meningitis that swept across the United States may not be the first contamination issue for the Massachusetts manufacturer of the tainted shots. Eyewitness 11 News says the company faced a lawsuit in 2004 over the death of an 83-year-old man from Meningitis he contracted through a contaminated injection.
On July 17, 2002, the victim received an injection that was manufactured at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts. The shot was contaminated with bacterial Meningitis and the victim died of the Drug Injury a year and a half later.
The facility also may have been producing medications on a scale not allowed by its state license. Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick, announced the company was only allowed to fill individual prescriptions for a specific type and amount of drug, but instead may have been acting more as a large-scale manufacturer and distributor by shipping the medications in mass quantities as stock to medical facilities across state lines.
In the meantime, the company that owns the compounding facility responsible for the recent outbreak has ceased operations at all of its plants and is fully cooperating with investigators.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers believe drug manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of products they put on the market and are here to help if were injured by a prescription medication or other treatment.
It’s one of the worst kinds of medical stories: Contaminated products causing serious illness and deaths.
According to an article on WRAL.com, as many as 13,000 people received injections of a steroid (methylprednisolone acetate) contaminated with a fungus that causes meningitis. While that number includes all people who got injections in any location, the only patients at risk of developing fungal meningitis are those who got a shot in their spine to relieve back pain.
Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 105 people developed meningitis after receiving an injection with the contaminated steroid, and nine people have died. Two of the confirmed cases of meningitis are in North Carolina.
According to an article in the News & Observer, only three health facilities in North Carolina have used the contaminated product:
Representatives from the High Point and Wilson locations say that all the patients who had been injected with the recalled batches of steroid had been notified–that was 70 patients in High Point and 26 patients in Wilson.
Patients who received shots of the contaminated product but who aren’t yet sick are not necessarily safe. Meningitis can take weeks to develop, and the CDC expects more cases to develop. Symptoms may include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. The CDC said many of the cases have been mild, and some people had strokes.
The company responsible for the contamination–New England Compounding Center of Framingham, MA–has recalled all lots of the steroid, and everything else it makes, too.
“While there is no indication at this time of any contamination in other NECC products, this recall is being taken as a precautionary measure,” the company said in a statement.
HensonFuerst is doing its own investigation into the extent of the contamination, and would be interested in hearing from anyone who became sick after receiving a steroid injection at one of the clinics listed above. Feel free to call us at 1-800-4-LAWMED. We’ll keep you informed as more details become available.
To read the full story on WRAL.com, click here: 13,000 got suspect steroid shots
To read the full story in the News & Observer, click here: No meningitis cases among patients at Durham clinic
If you can purchase a medication or cream in a supermarket without a prescription, it has to be safe…right? Not necessarily.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released an advisory for common over-the-counter (OTC) topical muscle and joint pain relievers, including Bengay, Capzasin, Flexall, Icy Hot, and Mentholatum. The various formulations–which include creams, lotions, ointments, and patches–have been reported to cause rare cases of serious skin injuries, such as third-degree chemical burns where the products were applied. Some of the burns had serious complications requiring hospitalization.
The FDA recommends that consumers using an OTC topical muscle and joint pain reliever who experience signs of skin injury where the product was applied (such as pain, swelling, or blistering of the skin) should stop using the product and seek medical attention immediately. The products are not being recalled; the FDA simply wants to make consumers aware of the potential for injury.
July 12, 2012
To create a more innovative and efficient healthcare system, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Monday that the President had signed The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) into law. According to a press release, the act will allow the FDA to collect user fees from companies that manufacture products for the medical industry to provide financial backing for reviews of certain products, such as innovator and generic drugs, as well as medical devices.
The review of new, cutting-edge drugs, as well as generic versions of blockbuster medications, will provide better access to higher quality products, but with much more transparency to the public than ever before, thus reducing the risk of North Carolina drug injuries. The agency plans to do this by increasing the number of inspections of manufacturing facilities. They also plan to decrease the approval time of new medications.
The act will also reinstate two previously de-authorized programs that advocate for the development and continuation of pediatric medical research. The two programs have been made permanent, and are no longer subject to reauthorization every five years.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers are curious to know what you think about this new measure that was recently approved. Will it be successful in reducing drug injuries and getting new and better products on the market? Tell us what you think by posting to our Facebook page.
July 5, 2012
In the wake of GlaxoSmithKline being forced to pay roughly $3 billion after the company failed to inform the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of risks that certain medications they produce could pose to patients, the company is now coming forward with new information that another medication could put patients at risk of a heart attack. According to WRAL News, the drug manufacturer says that taking high doses of the intravenous form of their drug Zofran could result in a North Carolina Drug Injury stemming from irregular heart rhythms.
The risk was discovered when researchers noticed that the drug could affect electrical activities of the heart during a recent study. This can develop into a fatal heart condition known as Torsades de Pointes. Since the discovery of the potential risks, the British-based drug maker has asked that the FDA pull the 32 milligram doses of the drug, the highest doses patients are allowed to take, off of shelves.
The drug is an anti-nausea medication typically used by cancer patients.
The company added that oncologists nationwide would be receiving a letter next week informing them of both the risks involved with taking the drug and the recall of the dosage.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers at HensonFuerst would suggest that anyone currently taking this medication—or who has in the past—and experienced negative side effects should talk to an experienced drug injury lawyer immediately.
April 5, 2012
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in February that it had discovered several lots of a counterfeit version of the cancer drug Avastin. It stated that the counterfeit versions did not contain the active ingredient that was in the real version of the drug, and patients who took it may not have received effective treatments.
Now, WRAL News says that another counterfeit batch of the drug has been discovered in the U.S. under its Turkish name, Altuzan. The FDA says that any vial of the drug under that name with the batch number B6021 is possibly counterfeit. Officials say that drugs supplier Richards Pharma shipped 120 packages of the drug directly into the U.S. Anyone in possession of the potentially fake medications are being told to quarantine them immediately and contact the FDA for further instructions on disposal.
The United States has seen a growing number of reports of counterfeit drugs entering the country, as drug shortages are plaguing hospitals and doctor’s offices nationwide. Last year, more than 1,700 cases of counterfeit drugs were reported worldwide, with 6% of those cases occurring here in the United States.
This is why the North Carolina Drug Injury Attorneys with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers would advise you to never take a medication, even if it’s going to be administered by a doctor, unless it has met FDA approval status or is in the clinical trial stage.