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UN Says World’s Favorite Drug Very Dangerous

September 16th, 2014

Marijuana, now legal in several American states, is more dangerous than people think, according to a chief researcher at the United Nations.

Many people think of marijuana as a relatively low-risk drug, but according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s annual report, its use, particularly at young ages, can be extremely to health. Some of the adverse health effects associated with marijuana use include:

  • Lung problems
  • Memory impairment
  • Respiratory problems
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Impaired judgment and motor coordination

Although the perception is that marijuana is the least harmful of illicit drugs, the UNODC cautions that there has been a visible increase in the number of people seeking treatment for disorders caused by marijuana use over the past decade.

Nearly two-thirds of the nations surveyed for the report reported that cannabis was the main drug used in their countries in 2012. The UNODC estimates that nearly 180 million people worldwide consumed marijuana that year, much more than the 34.4 million that used the next most popular drug, amphetamines. Although global cannabis use dropped between 2011 and 2012, U.S. consumption continues to rise, at least in part affected by the 2012 votes to legalize recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Wisconsin.

Hard Habit to Break

Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is additive, according to DrugAbuse.gov. Experts estimate that approximately nine percent of marijuana users become addicted to the drug. The number increases to 17 percent, or one in six among those who start young, and to 25-50 percent for those who use marijuana daily.

Long term marijuana users trying to quit often experience some of the same withdrawal symptoms associated with other illicit drugs, including irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and an intense craving for the drug. Although not currently available, developments have been made in medications designed to block the intoxicating effects of marijuana, ease withdrawal symptoms, and prevent individuals from relapsing.

Research indicates that marijuana also may cause problems in daily life, or at least make someone’s existing problems worse. Heavy marijuana users commonly report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, relationship problems, and a lower level of academic and career success than those who don’t use the drug.

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Collisions With Large Trucks No Small Matter

September 12th, 2014

Because of the weight and size of tractor-trailer vehicles compared to passenger cars, collisions involving the two often result in very serious injuries, particularly for those traveling in smaller vehicles.

Driver Regulations

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, commercial truck drivers must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be able to control and manage their vehicles
  • Meet certain physical standards
  • Hold a state-issued commercial driver’s license
  • Have English language skills that are adequate to meet the requirements of the job
  • Be able to understand and comply with traffic laws

Commercial drivers are prohibited from operating tractor-trailers when they are too tired or ill to drive, and when they are impaired by drugs and alcohol. They are required to operate at or below the posted speed limit, and in 2011 rules that limit and /or prohibit the use of mobile devices while driving took effect. Drivers who commit specific offenses may have their driving privileges temporarily or permanently revoked, depending upon the severity and frequency of the offense.

Drive Defensively

Truck drivers and trucking companies should practice safe driving techniques, make sure their trucks are well maintained, and obey the rules of the road, but those in small vehicles and passenger cars can also do their part by driving defensively at all times, particularly when trucks are present. Some useful defensive driving techniques include:

  • Avoid the trucker’s blind spots, or “no-zones
  • Don’t pass a truck on the right when the truck is turning right
  • Pay close attention to a truck’s turn signals
  • Use appropriate passing procedures, and don’t linger alongside a truck when passing
  • Avoid follow too closely and tailgating
  • Don’t cut a truck off
  • Never underestimate the size and speed of an approaching tractor-trailer

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,921 people killed and 104,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds) in the U.S. in 2012, and 333,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes.

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Who Pays My Medical Bills After an Auto Accident?

September 12th, 2014

If getting into an automobile accident wasn’t bad enough, you suffered injuries and received medical attention, and now you find out that even though you didn’t cause the accident, you have to pay for your own medical bills.

 How fair is that?

Not fair at all, but unfortunately, it’s usually a reality, at least until your case is resolved and the liable party accepts responsibility, which can take months or even years.

Who pays the bills in the meantime?

Your Medical Pay Coverage

Medical pay, commonly known as med-pay, is optional coverage that you can add to your own personal car insurance policy that will pay accident-related medical bills up to a specific limit chosen by you when you buy the coverage. Med-pay will cover you and whoever else is riding in your automobile in the event of an accident, no matter who was at fault.

Medical payments coverage is not required in Georgia, but it can be a good thing to have, even if you have other health insurance because:

  • It is affordable – a $50,000 med pay endorsement might cost less than $100 per year
  • No pre-existing conditions will apply
  • Your bills will be paid right away without co-pays, deductibles, or limits on what providers can provide treatment
  • It will cover expenses incurred up to three years from the date of the accident.

Although coverage varies, the Georgia Commissioner of Insurance requires insurance companies to offer limits of at least $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, $10,000, $25,000, and $50,000. Because it only costs a few dollars more a year so we strongly encourage everyone to have it. We would suggest at least $5,000 or more for each policy you have.

Your Health Insurance 

After your medical payments coverage is exhausted, your health insurance plan may pick up your accident-related medical bills, although depending upon your coverage, co-payments, deductibles, and co-insurance will likely apply.

If your medical pay coverage is exhausted and you don’t have health insurance, you’ll be expected to pay your bills yourself. Even if you have health insurance, it will rarely cover your medical bills first dollar the way medical payments coverage does, so you will be responsible for co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance.

If a lawsuit arises from your accident, your medical providers may agree to carry your balance until the case is settled, although interest might accrue. Your attorney might be able to get the interest charges waived or reduced when your case settles, depending upon the strength of his negotiation skills and relationship with the providers.

The Other Driver’s Auto Insurance – Sooner or Later

If the accident wasn’t your fault, you can bring a lawsuit against the responsible party to recover accident-related past and future medical expenses as well as lost wages for pain and sufferingcar_accident.

But you’ll have to be patient, as a personal injury claim can take several years to resolve, either through settlement or trial, and your bills will not be paid until the matter is closed. Insurance carriers usually never pay your bills as they come in to you go before completely settling your claim with them. This is a tool insurance companies use to get people to take less than the full value of their claim. (This is known as the “we can wait you out” approach and strategy)

Then, as if that were not enough, when you actually recover compensation in the lawsuit, your health insurance contract will likely require you to reimburse your carrier for all accident-related medical bills paid on your behalf. This is known as subrogation.

The good news is an experienced trial lawyer deals with these issues every day and can help you navigate the process in the most advantageous way for you specifically. If you have questions: Ask. The more you know the better you will be in the long run.

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Why Parking Lots are Fertile Ground for Accidents

August 27th, 2014

Parking lots are unique places where those frequenting them have likely been both a hurried driver and a distracted pedestrian at one time or another. There’s a lot going on in a parking lot: cars coming and going, drivers pulling in and out of parking spaces, pedestrians walking to and from business establishments, sometimes in the path of oncoming vehicles.

Although cars typically move more slowly in parking lots, drivers are also distracted (looking for that perfect spot, no doubt), traveling unpredictably in all directions, weaving back and forth, and generally putting other motorists and pedestrians at risk. Not surprisingly, the Washington Post reports that more than one in five motor vehicle accidents occur in parking lots.

Parking Lot Accident Procedure

If you’re involved in a parking lot accident, either as a motorist or pedestrian, there are certain steps you should take as soon as possible:

  • Remove the cars from the accident scene into a safer location, or if they cannot be moved, turn on your emergency flashers and exit the vehicle.
  • Check for injuries, and call for medical assistance if necessary.
  • Call the police and your insurance company to report the accident.
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other party involved.
  • Note the time, date, location, weather conditions, parking lot conditions, and another other important details.
  • Take pictures of the scene, the damage, and the injuries sustained if possible.
  • Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident.
  • If you or someone else has been seriously injured, consider speaking with an accident attorney.

Fault in Parking Lot Accidents

Establishing fault in a parking lot accident can be extremely challenging, and for this reason, if you are injured, calling an attorney might be advisable. Because parking lots are typically on private property where the rules of the road don’t apply, the police might not investigate or complete a report on a parking lot accident. It generally comes down to one person’s word against the other, and insurance companies usually split the fault equally, regardless of who may have actually been to blame.

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Cubist Pharmaceuticals Recalls 100+ Lots of Cubicin

August 19th, 2014

One hundred and one production lots of the antibiotic Cubicin, the intravenously administered prescription used for the treatment of skin and bloodstream infections, was voluntarily recalled by Cubist Pharmaceuticals on August 6 due to the potential presence of glass particles in vials produced by a contract manufacturer.

When a glass particulate is present in an intravenous drug, patients are potentially at risk for the following:

  • Thromboembolism
  • Life-threatening pulmonary emboli
  • Phlebitis
  • Mechanical block of the capillaries
  • The formation of granulomas, a protective local inflammatory response to foreign material

According to the FDA, patients with a preexisting condition of trauma or another condition that affects the microvascular blood supply are at an increased safety risk.

What is Cubicin?

Cubicin is used to treat bacterial infections of the skin and underlying tissues. It is packaged in single-use vials and distributed nationwide. Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site

Cubist is notifying customers of the recall by letter and telephone, and anyone with an existing inventory of the product lots listed should determine whether they have product from the recalled lots and discontinue use and arrange for return and replacement of the affected lots. The company is expecting to recall about 50,000 vials of Cubicin that were manufactured between November 2011 and February 2014.

This is the third recall in 12 months for the Lexington, Massachusetts-based drug maker, although the previous two were on a much smaller scale, they also involved supplier issues. In each instance, the presence of glass particles triggered the recall. Like the previous two, this recall is precautionary, as no complaints of trace glass particles in vials or any adverse effects associated with the product have been reported to date.

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Pfizer Pays $35 Million in Rapamune Settlements

August 18th, 2014

According to the Associated Press, Pfizer plans to pay $35 million to resolve allegations by 42 states that its subsidiary, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, illegally marketed an organ transplant drug for unapproved uses.

The states’ attorneys general said on August 6, 2014 that Wyeth, which New York-based Pfizer acquired for $68 billion in 2009, trained sales representatives to encourage doctors to prescribe Rapamune for uses other than preventing rejection of transplanted kidneys. Rapamune was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1999 only for use in kidney transplant patients, and promoting drugs for uses not cleared by the FDA is illegal.

Rapamune (generic name sirolimus) lowers a person’s immune system to prevent the rejection of a transplanted kidney. It can also lower blood cells that help a body fight infections, making it easier for an individual to bleed excessively from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill.

Other potential side effects include joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, headache, acne, and skin rash.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Pfizer will reform its marketing and promotional practices to avoid unlawfully promoting Rapamune or any Pfizer product, and will not:

  • Make false, misleading, or deceptive claims
  • Make any claim comparing the safety or efficacy of a Pfizer product to another product when that claim is not supported by substantial evidence
  • Promote any Pfizer product for uses not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration
  • Provide incentives to encourage sales for off-label uses
  • Seek to have Rapamune included in hospital protocols or standing orders unless it is to be used for an FDA-approved purpose
  • Share information describing any off-label or unapproved use of Rapamune unless such information complies with FDA regulations
  • Seek to influence the prescribing of Rapamune in hospitals or transplant centers in any manner that does not comply with federal law banning kick-backs, including through funding clinical trials

Pfizer said in a statement that the alleged illegal activity occurred before it acquired Wyeth, and did not admit any wrongdoing or liability as part of the settlement. The company agreed to pay nearly $491 million in July 2013 to resolve a similar investigation by the Department of Justice.

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RegenESlim Recalled Due to Presence of DMAA

August 15th, 2014

Regeneca Worldwide, a division of VivaCeuticals, Inc. in Las Vegas, is voluntarily recalling its RegenESlim appetite control dietary supplement due to the confirmed presence of DMAA in certain lots of the supplement. DMAA, also known as dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine, or geranium oil/extract, is typically used as a stimulant, pre-workout, and weight loss ingredient in dietary supplement products.

The FDA has warned that DMAA is dangerous because it can narrow blood vessels and arteries and cause a corresponding rise in blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Arrhythmias
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Tightening in the chest
  • Heart attack
  • Death

Until 2012, DMAA, which was first discovered by Eli Lilly and Company in 1944, was sold by numerous companies. It was marketed as the nasal decongestant Forthane until 1983, and reappeared as a dietary supplement in 2006. The FDA reported that by April 2013, it had received 86 adverse event reports from people who used DMAA, and in response sent warning letters to a total of 11 companies advising them that DMAA-containing products marketed as dietary supplements are illegal and must be taken off the market. These companies include:

  • Exclusive Supplements – Biorhythm SSIN Juice
  • Fahrenheit Nutrition – Lean Efx
  • Gaspari Nutrition – Spirodex
  • iSatori Global Technologies, LLC – PWR
  • Muscle Warfare, Inc. – Napalm
  • MuscleMeds Performance Technologies – Code Red
  • Nutrex Research – Hemo Rage Black, Lipo-6 Black Ultra Concentrate, Lipo-6 Black, Lipo-6 Black Hers Ultra Concentrate, Lipo-6 Black Hers
  • Regeneca, Inc. – RegeneSlim
  • SEI Pharmaceuticals – MethylHex 4,2
  • SNI LLC – Nitric Blast
  • USP Labs, LLC – Oxy Elite Pro, Jack3D

Although there have been no reported illnesses to date, the voluntary recall was the result of FDA analysis confirming the presence of DMAA in RegenESlim. Regeneca Worldwide is conducting a continuing investigation on the problem.

Customers who have purchased RegenESlim Lot #EX0616R15814 and Lot #11414RE5516 are advised to stop using the product immediately and return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Adverse reactions to the supplement may be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online, fax, or via regular mail.

RegenESlim is purchased by and distributed through direct sales in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and also through online sales for both personal use and retail sales.

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Childers, Schlueter & Smith Continue to Investigate Stryker Claims Related to Recalled Hip Implants

August 8th, 2014

Our personal injury lawyers are still investigating claims on behalf of anyone who has had revision surgery due to complications from the recalled Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II modular-neck stem implant. In July of 2012, the Stryker Corporation issued a voluntary recall of the Rejuvenate and ABG II modular-neck stem hip implants due to the risks associated with corrosion of the modular neck joint of the implant. For more information, check out the “Top 10 Things all Stryker Hip Implant Patients Need To Know

depuy-recallAccording to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 48 percent of the total hip arthroplasties measured in the study resulted in elevated metal ion levels for the patients that received them. The study also indicated that the rate of revision surgery administered to hip implant patients was 28 percent. We believe those numbers will continue to increase in the months and years ahead based on our own specific findings.

Those patients in the study who received a modular hip implant had the Kaplan-Meier survivorship (a measure of the life cycle of a product) of their devices measured at 40 percent after 4 years even though they are intended (and marketed to patients) to last for at least 15 years.

It comes as no surprise to us that results from this new study are consistent with what our clients have been alleging all along: The Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II are defective and should have never been placed on the market. Our national hip implant attorneys are currently investigating Stryker hip implant recall claims on behalf of all persons who have received a Rejuvenate or ABG II modular-neck stem implant. This includes those that have already had a revision (replacement) of the hip device as well as those that have yet to have the recalled implant replaced.

If you or a loved one has suffered medical complications from the Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II, contact the national personal injury lawyers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith LLC for a thorough investigation into your claim. All inquiries are kept confidential and all initial consultations are free of charge.

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Class Action Filed Against Cerezyme Manufacturer

July 5th, 2014

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Genzyme Corporation, the maker of the drug Cerezyme, after a Colorado man claimed the company distributed and sold impure and untested drugs. Cerezyme, which costs $200,000 a year or more, is prescribed to treat Gaucher disease, a rare enzyme deficiency that is inherited from an individual’s parents.

What is Cerezyme?

Cerezyme is a modified form of the human enzyme, glucocerebrosidase. It is produced using genetic engineering technology, also called recombinant DNA technology, and has been shown to be effective in the treatment of Type 1 Gaucher Disease. It is prescribed for adults and children with Type 1 Gaucher disease that results in one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Anemia
  • Low blood platelet counts
  • Enlargement of the spleen or liver
  • Bone disease

Contamination 

Once considered a miracle drug for those suffering from Gaucher Disease, Cerezyme was contaminated with vesivirus sometime prior to July 2009 and according to the complaint, the company cut doses to less than a third for many Gaucher patients due to a shortage of the drug. The company allegedly knew the diluted medication was experimental and dangerous and still elected to give it to certain patients, including the plaintiff, who now suffers from an incurable cancer.

According to court documents, after Genzyme contaminated its bioreactors with the dangerous virus, the company was forced to temporarily close its main factory in Boston, greatly reducing the output of Cerezyme. Genzyme did not restore full supplies of Cerezyme until January of 2011, much later than initially expected.

Because Genzyme could not meet customer demand for Cerezyme, the company implemented a plan that was designed to ration the drug that was allegedly illegal to sell or market in the first place, according to the complaint, because it was “experimental, mislabeled, impure, contaminated, ineffective, diluted and illegally substituted but marketed as if it were a beneficial treatment for Gaucher Disease,” although it was never previously tested in animals or human beings.

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California Counties Wage War Against Narcotics Industry

July 3rd, 2014

With language reminiscent of the government’s legal attack against the tobacco industry beginning in 1999, officials from Orange and Santa Clara counties in California filed suit against five of the world’s largest narcotics manufacturers last month. Both counties have been hit hard by overdose deaths, emergency room visits, and rising medical costs associated with prescription narcotics.

The lawsuit names Actavis, Endo Health Solutions Inc., Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Cephalon Inc. and alleges that the companies essentially caused the nation’s prescription drug epidemic through false advertising, deceptive business practices, and by creating a public nuisance to manipulate doctors and reap huge profits.

According to court documents, the companies are accused of encouraging patients to ask their doctors for painkillers such as OxyContin to treat relatively common conditions such as headaches, arthritis, and back pain. The drug manufacturers promoted these narcotic painkillers as safer than they actually and promised unproven benefits like improved sleep and quality of life, the suit says.

The drug manufacturers’ marketing campaigns, carried out over the past 20 years, have encouraged doctors to turn to narcotic prescriptions as a first resort rather than the last for all types of pain, and many patients stay on the drugs indefinitely.

Twenty years ago, the narcotics industry was selling to a relatively small market because of the long-held fear of addition that stopped doctors from prescribing the powerful painkillers for anything but cancer and end-of-life pain. The lawsuit claims that to expand their market, drug companies engaged in a dishonest campaign to reeducate doctors and revolutionized the treatment of pain associated with a wider array of ailments.

According to the suit, it was the marketing and not any medical breakthrough that heightened the prescribing of narcotics for chronic pain and increased the potential for use and abuse. Painkillers are reportedly involved in over 16,000 fatalities in the U.S. each year, beating out traffic accidents as a leading cause of death.

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