Number of Yaz lawsuits continues to grow as problems mount

The number of lawsuits filed against the maker of Yaz and Yasmin birth control products continues to grow as more women discover the health risks associated with the products.

According to Bayer’s Stockholder’s Newsletter, as of Oct. 15, 2012, there were 12,400 lawsuits pending in the United States that had been served on the company. An additional 720 claims were pending but had not yet been filed in court.

The company has already settled with 3,490 claimants and agreed to pay about $750 million.

Yaz (and in a slightly altered form, Yasmin) is an oral birth control medication billed as more than just a pill to prevent pregnancies. It also has the added benefits of treating moderate acne and a severe form of premenstrual syndrome called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. Unfortunately, as many women have found, it also packs the potential for a host of serious, even life-threatening side effects, including blood clots, gall bladder injury, heart attack and stroke.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered new warnings added to the labels of all birth control products containing drospirenone, including Yaz and Yasmin. The labels of these products now reflect the new information about the increased risk of blood clots.

According to the FDA communication, the new labels show that some studies reflected as high as a threefold increase in a woman’s risk of blood clots when using oral contraceptives that contain drospirenone compared with products that contain levonorgestrel or other progestins. A clot in blood vessels can prove fatal if it breaks loose and travels to the lungs, heart or brain.

If you or a loved one have used Yaz or Yasmin and suffered complications, please contact the personal injury attorneys of Elk & Elk today. We have nearly 50 years of experience helping clients get the results they deserve. Find out how we can help you. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our online consultation form.

Elk & Elk endorses candidates in Nov. 6 election

Election Day is still two weeks away, but more than 800,000 Ohioans have already cast their vote. If you are not one of those more than 800,000, Elk & Elk encourages you to research the candidates and issues and be sure to vote on Election Day.

If for some reason you cannot make it out on Election Day or just want to vote early, there are options for you. Voters choosing to vote by mail have until Saturday, Nov. 3 at noon to ask for an absentee ballot from their boards of elections. If you live in Ohio, click here to find out where your county board of elections is located.

Completed absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Monday, Nov. 5 or dropped off in person to the board of elections by the close of polls on Election Day.

If you haven’t already voted, please be sure to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at your local polling place. At Elk & Elk, we believe very strongly in the Democratic process and urge everyone to do their part by casting their vote.

Based on their experience, dedication and commitment to the individual civil rights of all Ohioans, Elk & Elk supports the following candidates in the Nov. 6 election:

For Justice of the Supreme Court

  • Mike Skindell
  • William M. O’Neill
  • Yvette McGee Brown

For Judge of the Court of Appeals (8th District)

  • Frank D. Celebrezze Jr.
  • Tim McCormack
  • Eileen T. Gallagher
  • Mary J. Boyle

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (General Division)

  • Joseph D. Russo
  • Stuart A. Friedman
  • Michael Jackson
  • Timothy McCormick
  • John P. O’Donnell
  • Daniel Gaul
  • Dean W. Van Dress
  • John D. Sutula
  • Carolyn B. Friedland
  • Shirley Strickland Saffold
  • Janet R. Burnside
  • Joan Synenberg
  • Colleen Ann Reali
  • Robert C. McClelland
  • Steve Gall

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (Juvenile Division)

  • Frankie Goldberg
  • Alison Nelson Floyd
  • Thomas F. O’Malley
  • Michael John Ryan

Other Non-Judicial candidates we support:

For U.S. Senator

  • Sherrod Brown

For Representative to Congress (14th District)

  • David P. Joyce

For State Senator (24th District)

  • Thomas F. Patton

For State Representative (6th District)

  • Anthony Fossaceca

For Prosecuting Attorney (Cuyahoga County)

  • Timothy J. McGinty

Post by Arthur Elk

Cardiologist facing scrutiny for unnecessary heart stents

A Cleveland-area cardiologist is being investigated by the FBI and his work is being probed by three Northeast Ohio hospitals to determine if he unnecessarily placed stents in the hearts of patients.

According to an FBI spokeswoman, the agency has seized financial papers, patient files and other records from the medical office of Westlake cardiologist Dr. Harry Persaud. The three hospitals covered include Westlake’s St. John Medical Center (jointly owned by the Sisters of Charity Health System and University Hospitals), Fairview Hospital in Cleveland (a Cleveland Clinic hospital) and Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights, which has a partnering agreement with University Hospitals.

According to the State Medical Board of Ohio’s website, Persaud, 53, was born in London and graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School at the University of London in 1983. The state board site also states that it has taken no formal action against him. Persaud is board-certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease, according to the American Board of Medical Specialties.

St. John officials were first notified of concerns about Persaud’s work in February when staff members in the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab told cardiology department officials that the doctor wasn’t performing stent procedures the same way as other doctors. According to St. John’s chief medical officer, the hospital immediately started an internal investigation and called in an outside expert. The expert reviewed 30 of Persaud’s cases and determined that 23 patients unnecessarily received stents.

The public was first made aware about questions concerning Persaud’s work in August. That’s when St. John Medical Center sent letters of apology to the 23 patients, telling them they may have had stents placed in their hearts unnecessarily at the hospital during the previous two years. The Medical Executive Committee at St. John Medical Center recommended to hospital trustees that the doctor’s privileges be revoked. Persaud has appealed and a hearing will be held. Until then, he has been suspended and cannot practice there.

At the same time, Southwest said it had begun an internal review of similar cases the doctor performed at their facility. A spokesman said they had found no evidence of improper care but the investigation is ongoing.

A week later, Fairview Hospital announced it, too, was investigating Persaud’s work and contacting his stent patients. According to hospital officials, Persaud resigned from the hospital’s staff in January.

In September, a 53-year-old Cleveland man filed a lawsuit against Persaud and St. John Medical Center in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court claiming he received a stent he did not need. The lawsuit says that actions by Persaud and the hospital “were so outrageous in character and so extreme in degree that they go beyond all possible bounds of decency and may be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”

The suit, which asks for a jury trial, also says that St. John officials knew that Persaud would perform fraudulent medical treatment and had developed a pattern of incompetence or inappropriate behavior but failed to limit his privileges before Barber was treated.

Doctors performing unnecessary medical procedures are a serious concern, and need to be dealt with strongly. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that up to 30 percent of health care expenditures in the U.S. go toward tests, procedures, doctor visits, hospital stays and other services that many medical experts say do not improve patients’ health. Even more distressing than the financial waste is the risk these procedures can pose to patients’ well-being. Anytime a patient undergoes a medical procedure, there is a risk something can go wrong. There is no reason they should unnecessarily put their lives at risk in this way.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of unnecessary medical procedures, contact the medical malpractice attorneys of Elk & Elk today. We will put our nearly 50 years’ of experience and our vast resources to work for you, to help you get the results you deserve. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out or online consultation form to find out how we can help you.

 

Grant to help fund new anti-texting-and-driving measures

Earlier this year, Ohio joined the growing list of states with bans on texting and driving, yet many states are discovering how difficult it is to stop texting and driving and enforce the bans.

A total of 38 states ban texting while driving, and many municipalities have their own texting and driving ordinance.  In many cases, the law only bans texting and driving, not all cellphone use. This makes it difficult for police, as they must prove someone is texting and not using their cellphone for some other, legal purpose. In Minnesota, police wrote only 1,200 tickets for texting in 2011. In Scranton, PA, police issued only 10 tickets in the first six months after that state’s ban took effect, and one of those was to a driver who admitted texting after a crash.

This difficulty has forced law enforcement agencies to seek out new avenues for cracking down on illegal texters. A new $550,000 federal grant announced last week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will allow police departments in Massachusetts and Connecticut to test a variety of anti-texting initiatives in the next two years. The measures – everything from ad campaigns to roving patrols – are designed to find “real-world protocols and practices to better detect if a person is texting while driving,” according to NHTSA chief David Strickland.

One new measure the grant will help fund is spotters on overpasses and other roadways who can identify drivers who are typing behind the wheel. There is already proof that a program like this can work.

Earlier this month, police in Bismarck, ND, wrote 31 distracted driving tickets in two days as part of a crackdown. Officers used unmarked, high-riding trucks or SUVs to peer down into cars and catch texters in the act. Because North Dakota bans texting and Internet browsing while driving, officers had to be able to see what drivers specifically were doing with their phones. One officer said they could have written twice as many tickets but didn’t have enough evidence.

The personal injury attorneys of Elk & Elk have seen too many cases of drivers injured because of other drivers’ distracted driving. Because of these tragic situations, we are in favor of in steps to help keep drivers focused on the road and not on their electronic devices. Thousands of American motorists have fallen victim to distracted driving and everything must be done to end this epidemic.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, contact the personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk today. We will put our experience and resources to work to get you the results you need. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our convenient online consultation form.

 

Peanut butter recall grows to more than 400 products

The recall of peanut butter and other peanut products linked to a salmonella outbreak has expanded again – this time to include raw and roasted peanuts.

Sunland Inc., a New Mexico food company, has already recalled peanut butter brands sold at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, Kroger, Target and Costco. The FDA has warned consumers not to eat any products associated with Sunland, and to discard them right away because they might be tainted with Salmonella.

According to a list released by Sunland and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of manufacturers that have recalled their own products, more than 400 products have been recalled. For a complete list of companies recalling products, click here.

Thirty-five people have been sickened in 19 states from coast to coast and there is concern that with so many products on the list, that number could grow.

Plant linked to outbreak has been investigated before

An official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said all of the illnesses that have been investigated are related to the peanut butter products that are from the one plant.

An FDA investigation conducted last month after the illnesses were linked to the plant found salmonella in environmental samples taken from various surfaces, officials said. The agency did not release any other details about current conditions at the plant. Washington state health officials also confirmed the presence of salmonella in an opened jar of the Trader Joe’s peanut butter found in a victim’s home, the FDA said.

Sunland has recalled everything made in its contaminated plant since March 2010.

Agency records show that the FDA has found problems at Sunland before. Two inspections at the plant in 2009 and 2010 found “objectionable conditions” but classified the findings as not meeting the FDA’s threshold for action. According to the records, any corrective action on the part of the company was voluntary. The FDA has not released details on what the objectionable conditions were or why the agency visited the plant twice in two years.

Symptoms of Salmonella

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

However, in some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

If you have any of the recalled products, you should throw them away immediately.

The personal injury attorneys of Elk & Elk want you and your loved ones to be safe. We are serious about helping you stay informed about recalls and dangerous products.

To find out more about the product recall attorneys of Elk & Elk, click here.

Death toll continues to rise in meningitis outbreak linked to steroid shots

The meningitis outbreak linked to tainted steroid shots continues to spread and turn more deadly, with 12 deaths and 120 people sickened – numbers that are expected to rise.

The outbreak is linked to contaminated steroid injections, and as many as 13,000 people may have received the medicine between May 21 and Sept. 24, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The outbreak highlights a gap in regulation of so-called pharmacy compounders, which are facilities that take drug ingredients and package them into medications and dosages for specific clients.

The FDA regulates only the ingredients and not the compounders, which are subject to oversight and licensing by state pharmacy boards.

Nearly 10 percent of drugs administered in the United States come from compound pharmacies, according to a 2003 Government Accountability Office report. Compound pharmacists create customized medication solutions for patients for whom manufactured pharmaceuticals won’t work.

The number of reported cases of meningitis has grown significantly this week as federal and state authorities continued to investigate the outbreak. Tennessee is the hardest-hit state, with 39 infections and six deaths, according to the CDC. Other than Tennessee, deaths have been reported in Florida, Maryland, Michigan and Virginia.

There are also confirmed cases of the disease in Indiana, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio.

Health officials say 75 medical facilities in 23 states received the contaminated steroid injections from NECC.

The other states that received the contaminated products are California, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.

Officials believe patients contracted the deadly fungal meningitis after being injected in their spines with a preservative-free steroid called methylprednisolone acetate that was contaminated by a fungus. The steroid is used to treat pain and inflammation.

The New England Compounding Center, the Massachusetts-based pharmacy that made the contaminated injections, voluntarily recalled three lots of the injected steroid last week. On Saturday, the pharmacy announced a voluntary nationwide recall of all its other products as well. NECC said the new recall was being announced out of an abundance of caution and that there is no indication any of its other products are contaminated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already asked doctors, clinics and consumers to stop using any of the pharmacy’s products. Last week, the pharmacy voluntarily surrendered its license to operate until the FDA investigation into the contamination is complete.

Health officials say any patients who received an injection at one of the facilities beginning May 21 and who began showing symptoms between one and three weeks after being injected should see their doctor right away.

To read more about fungal meningitis and its symptoms, click here.

If you have contracted fungal meningitis after injection with methylprednisolone acetate, please contact the Ohio personal injury attorneys of Elk & Elk today. Call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out our online evaluation form to find out if we can help you.

 

 

Halloween Safety: Dangerous drivers scarier than vampires and werewolves.

Ghouls and ghosts and goblins should be the only things kids have to be afraid of during the Halloween season.  Distracted or unsafe drivers should not be an issue. But unfortunately, they can be.

That’s why as drivers, we need to be extra aware as Halloween approaches. If you aren’t a parent, you might not know when trick-or-treating takes place in your area. But it shouldn’t take much effort to find out when it is. You can ask a neighbor. An online search or a call to your City Hall likely will help you find out. Once you know when trick-or-treating is in your area, it is up to you as a driver to take extra care if you are on the roads during the event. If you are on the roads and see swarms of costumed kids, it is time to slow down and watch the road extra closely.

Here are some tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for driving safely during trick-or-treat events in your area:

  • Drive slowly, and don’t pass stopped vehicles. The driver may be stopping to drop off children who are trick-or-treating.
  • Park your mobile phone. Avoid distractions by waiting until you’ve stopped to call, text, or surf, as you should every time you are behind the wheel.
  • Watch for children darting into the street. Kids can cross the street anywhere, and most young pedestrian deaths happen at spots other than intersections.
  • Yield to young pedestrians. Children might not stop, either, because they don’t see your vehicle approaching or don’t know how to safely cross the street.
  • Communicate with other drivers. Always use your turn signals. And if you have to pull over to drop off or pick up your kids, turn on your hazard lights.

If you are a parent with young children, you probably are already thinking about their costumes and planning for the big night of trick-or-treating. But costumes and candy shouldn’t be your only concern. As parents, we also must make sure our children are knowledgeable about trick-or-treat safety.

To keep your own kids safe as they are trick-or-treating:

  • Teach them how to safely cross streets. They should look both ways and cross only at corners and crosswalks.
  • Consider indoor community Halloween programs for younger kids. Some communities also offer to help you inspect your kids’ treats to make sure they are safe to eat.
  • Brighten them up. Give them flashlights and glow sticks, and/or use reflective tape on their costumes, so drivers can see them.

Halloween should be a very fun time of the year. Don’t let a lack of preparation or awareness ruin the fun for your family, or someone else’s family. Be safe and have fun this Halloween.

Stay informed about food recalls

Foodborne illnesses kill more than 3,000 people each year in the United States. One in six Americans become sick from a foodborne illness annually. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder that food recalls are on the rise and awareness of the issue seems to be rising, as well.

Food recalls in the United States increased during the second quarter of 2012, according to Stericycle ExpertRECALL, a company which aggregates and tracks cumulative recall data from the two main agencies involved in recalls – the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration.

During the second quarter of 2012, FDA enforcement reports documented 169 food recalls initiated by 156 companies and affecting more than 5 million units, the fewest number of units affected by recalls in the past four quarters.

The recall numbers were up 19 percent from the first quarter of 2012 and up 16 percent from the second quarter of 2011.

The report found undeclared allergens or other allergen concerns remained the primary cause of recalls, accounting for nearly 40 percent of food recalls initiated. Foodborne illness concerns accounted for an additional 40 percent of recalls during the quarter, with Salmonella and Listeria being the most common reasons.

Total numbers have not been released yet for the third quarter of 2012, but a search of the FDA’s website shows there were 50 food-related recalls in September alone.

Most recently, a large recall of peanut butter and peanut butter products has made headlines. Before that, mangoes from Mexico sickened more than 100 people. And there have been several instances this year of bagged salads being recalled for possible contamination.

What should you do if you think you have recalled food?

When a food recall alert is issued, it usually includes information to help you identify whether you have the product in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer and advises you what to do with it.

  • Check the recall notice. Manufacturers will provide information on what to do with the product. Typically, the instructions will tell you to either return the product to the store where you bought it for a refund, or to dispose of the product properly (especially if it has been opened).
  • To identify if a recall product is in your home, match identifying marks of the product with the recall notice details, such as product name and brand, container size and codes.
  • Do not panic. Most recalls are not associated with a food illness outbreak, and many are issued because there is a potential for the food to be contaminated. Often recalls are issued as a precautionary measure.
  • Do not eat the food. Even if you believe the recall to be just a precaution, do not eat the food! It is better to be safe than sorry. Do not donate the food to food banks or feed it to your pets.
  • Do not open the food container. Opening the food and checking it can potentially release bacteria or viruses that cause food illnesses into your home. If you do open or handle the product, wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap.
  • Preserve the evidence. If a portion of the suspect food is available, keep it, wrap it securely, mark “DANGER” and freeze it. Save all packaging materials (e.g. cans, labels, cartons). Save all purchase receipts.
  • Seek treatment if necessary. If you become ill and believe your illness is due to a food product, contact your healthcare provider.

What can you do to protect your family from food affected by recalls?

The most important thing is to stay informed. It might seem hard to find the time to search out all products that have been recalled, but several websites are available to help make the process easier.

One good place to look is the FDA’s website. They keep a running list of recalled food products. You also can sign up to receive email notifications about recalls from the FDA. You can also find similar information at foodsafety.gov.

At Elk & Elk, we are serious about safety and helping keep you healthy. That’s why we use our social media feeds (http://www.facebook.com/ElkandElk and www.twitter.com/elkandelk) to help inform you anytime there are recalls of any kind.

To find out more about the personal injury attorneys of Elk & Elk, please check out our website.

FDA launches online pharmacy awareness campaign, helps ID licensed websites

For millions of Americans, a large percentage of their monthly budgets must go toward prescription medications. Millions of dollars are spent on prescription drugs each year in our country. Ninety percent of senior citizens and 57 percent of non-senior citizens rely on at least one prescription drug on a daily basis.

Combine these numbers with an estimated 48.6 million Americans who do not have medical insurance and you can see why many Americans face the choice of buying food or buying medication.

These circumstances have forced many to look for alternatives, including online pharmacies. If you do an online search for “online pharmacy” you will find a seemingly endless list of websites offering to sell you all manner of prescription drugs.

But when it comes to buying medicine online, it is important to be very careful. Some Web sites sell medicine that may not be safe to use and could put your health at risk.

Some medicines sold online:

  • are fake (counterfeit or “copycat” medicines)
  • are too strong or too weak
  • have dangerous ingredients
  • have expired (are out-of-date)
  • aren’t FDA-approved (haven’t been checked for safety and effectiveness)
  • aren’t made using safe standards
  • aren’t safe to use with other medicine or products you use
  • aren’t labeled, stored, or shipped correctly

To help battle this growing issue, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched a national campaign to educate consumers about the dangers of buying medicine from fake online pharmacies and help people safely buy medicine online. “FDA BeSafeRx – Know Your Online Pharmacy” seeks to educate consumers and health care professionals about the health risks of buying prescription medicine through fake online pharmacies and to help current and potential online pharmacy consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

The FDA did a survey recently and found that one in four Americans had bought prescription drugs online. Nearly 30 percent said they were not confident about safely buying prescription drugs on the Internet.

This FDA campaign comes on the heels of an investigation by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. The NABP looked into 10,000 websites and discovered that a staggering 97 percent were not in compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws.

If you follow this link, you can click on your state so you can always make sure that the online pharmacy you are researching is:

  • Licensed in the United States
  •  Requires a doctor’s prescription
  • Provides a physical address and telephone number in the United States
  • Offers a licensed pharmacist to answer your questions.

The FDA offers some valuable tips for anyone considering buying their prescription drugs online.

Beware of online pharmacies that:

  • Allow you to buy drugs without a prescription from your doctor
  • Offer deep discounts or cheap prices that seem too good to be true
  • Send spam or unsolicited email offering cheap drugs
  • Are located outside of the United States
  • Are not licensed in the United States

The personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk want you to be informed of the dangers in buying prescription medications online so you can protect yourself and your loved ones. To find out more about Elk & Elk, visit our website.