IVC filters: 4 things you should know

Each year, doctors implant about a quarter of a million IVC filters into patients at risk for blood clots. New studies have revealed serious dangers associated with these devices.

Doctors usually treat blood clots with an anticoagulant, also know as a blood thinner. However, blood-thinning medicines are not safe for some people. If you are at risk for a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lungs) your doctor may implant an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter. IVC filters are devices placed into a large vein in your abdomen to catch blood clots.

Unfortunately, IVC filters have been associated with catastrophic injuries. If you have a blood clot filter, you should discuss the following topics with your doctor.

Top 4 facts about IVC filters

  1. The longer an IVC filter remains, the higher the risk of injury. Once a patient’s risk for blood clots has passed, retrievable IVC Filters should be removed — between 1-2 months after implantation. Long-term risks associated with IVC filters include lower limb deep vein thrombosis and IVC occlusion. In one study, only 8.5 percent of IVC filters were successfully removed.[1]
  2. The device is connected to 27 deaths. A recent NBC investigative report revealed that at least 27 deaths have been linked to IVC filters. According to the news outlet, “Serious questions are being raised about [IVC filters] implanted in thousands of Americans at risk for blood clots — including whether the manufacturer told all it knew about potentially fatal flaws.”
  3.  The FDA has received many reports of serious injuries. The device can migrate, fracture, move to the heart or lungs, perforate and be difficult to remove. These injuries may be related to how long the filter has been implanted.
  4. A new study suggests that IVC filters do not provide any medical benefit. “High rates of prophylactic IVC filter placement have no effect on reducing trauma patient mortality and are associated with an increase in DVT events.”[2]

The medical device attorneys at Elk & Elk are investigating claims involving IVC filters. If you had any retrievable IVC filter implanted after 2002, call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today. You may be eligible for compensation.


 

References

[1] Sarosiek, Shayna, Mark Crowther, and J. Mark Sloan. “Indications, complications, and management of inferior vena cava filters: the experience in 952 patients at an academic hospital with a level I trauma center.” JAMA Internal Medicine 173.7 (2013): 513-517.

[2] Hemmila, Mark R., et al. “Prophylactic Inferior Vena Cava Filter Placement Does Not Result in a Survival Benefit for Trauma Patients.” Annals of Surgery, 262.4 (2015): 577-585.

 

Thanksgiving Fire Prevention Tips

Cooking is the number one cause of home fires.
Cooking is the number one cause of home fires.

For many Americans, the best part about Thanksgiving is sitting down to a delicious home-cooked holiday dinner with friends and family. Unfortunately, cooking is the number one cause of home fires and the greatest number of them occur on Thanksgiving Day.

The American Red Cross offers these tips to follow while preparing your Thanksgiving meal:

  1. Do not wear loose-fitting clothing or sleeves that dangle while cooking.
  2. Never leave your food unattended. If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, never leave it unattended—stay in the kitchen. If you must leave the kitchen—even for a short time—turn off the stove.
  3. Check your food regularly when simmering, baking, roasting or broiling food.
  4. Use a timer. It’s easy to lose track of time. Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  5. Keep kids and pets away from the cooking area. Make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  6. Keep anything that can catch fire away from the heat source. This means: potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains. Keep them away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  7. Clean on a regular basis. Clean cooking surfaces and range hoods on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  8. Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and learn how to use it.
  9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  10. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
  11. Ensure your guests are aware of all available exits if a fire were to occur and inform them of a designated meeting place outside.

For more Thanksgiving safety information, including thawing and cooking times, tips for deep-frying a turkey, and proper leftover storage, read our in-depth Thanksgiving Dinner Safety blog.

From all of us at Elk & Elk, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

J & J faces thousands of Risperdal lawsuits

More than 5,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson for failure to warn doctors and consumers that Risperdal can cause boys to grow large breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia.

Risperdal Litigation

At least 1,500 Risperdal cases have been consolidated in Pennsylvania on behalf of individuals who allege the drug caused excessive male breast growth and other complications. Complex litigation with multiple plaintiffs takes time. First filed in 2010, Risperdal bellwether trials are currently underway in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

One case now before a jury was brought by a Risperdal user who was prescribed the drug off-label as an 11-year-old boy to treat symptoms associated with Tourette’s syndrome. The plaintiff, who required surgery to remove excess breast tissue that allegedly resulted from his use of Risperdal, claims that Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceutical unit made millions of dollars by improperly promoting unapproved pediatric use of the drug. The lawsuit also alleges the pharmaceutical companies did not adequately warn doctors and consumers about the association between Risperdal and the development of gynecomastia in boys.

Risperdal in the News

Overall, media coverage of this case has been sporadic at best. However, the Huffington Post has released a massive 58,000-word, 15-chapter “DocuSerial,” which casts a bright light on the far-reaching effects of Risperdal. As part of their extensive reporting, the publication released the following short film, entitled, “The Boy with 46-DD Breasts.” The documentary follows the story of Austin Pledger, who developed “large pendulous breasts” as a teen after he began taking the drug for autism at age eight.

 

The Boy With 46-DD Breasts from HuffPost Highline on Vimeo.

Jury awards $2.5 million in Risperdal lawsuit

Boys and young men who develop gynecomastia after taking Risperdal may be eligible to receive financial compensation for both physical and emotional injuries. In February 2015, Pledger was awarded $2.5 million after a judge declared J & J failed to warn the drug could cause breast development. While some Risperdal cases have gone to trial, others settle out of court. Although the terms are confidential, settlements typically include money for surgery, ongoing medical care and counseling.

UPDATE (11/9/15) – In the third bellwether Risperdal trial in Pennsylvania, a jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $1.75 million to a Maryland man who developed female breasts while taking Risperdal. The plaintiff, who had been prescribed Risperdal off-label when he was 9-years-old to treat symptoms associated with autism, was awarded compensatory damages for disfigurement and mental anguish.

Do lawsuits hurt big pharma?

Damages are awarded in a civil lawsuit to “make the plaintiff whole.” In some cases, punitive damages are also awarded to punish the defendant and (hopefully) deter future misdeeds. Unfortunately, most lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers don’t make any difference in how these behemoths do business. Why? Big pharma has very deep pockets, as evidenced by the following statement, which Johnson & Johnson filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2013—a year when their pharmaceutical segment achieved sales of $28.1 billion.

In the Company’s opinion, based on its examination of these matters, its experience to date and discussions with counsel, the ultimate outcome of legal proceedings . . . is not expected to have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial position.

So, it seems that although Johnson & Johnson—and many of the top pharmaceutical corporations—face thousands of expensive lawsuits, they’ll be just fine. Too bad the same can’t be said for the thousands of hapless victims of corporate greed.

 

Sources:

Brill, Steven. “America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker.” The Huffington Post, September 15, 2015.

Johnson & Johnson. 2013 Annual Report. New Brunswick, NJ: Johnson & Johnson, 2013.

Kristof, Nicholas. “When Crime Pays: J&J’s Drug Risperdal.” The New York Times, September 17, 2015.

Wasserman, Emily. “J&J slapped with 1.75M verdict in Risperdal breast growth case.” FiercePharma, November 10, 2015.