Kentucky Injury Lawyers

Billions of Dollars Paid to Settle Cases Involving Use of the Drug Risperdal

Published on Oct 14, 2015 at 5:16 am in Dangerous Drugs.

Johnson & Johnson recently paid $2.2 billion to settle a decade-long investigation into the company’s illegal promotion of the drug Risperdal.  The settlement was split between the federal government and multiple states and was the largest of its kind in U.S. history.  The company also failed to disclose certain possible health risks from taking the drug, leading to millions of dollars in private settlements paid to individuals who experienced severe side effects.

Risperdal, the name used for the drug risperidone, is an antipsychotic medication prescribed to treat patients with schizophrenia and certain problems caused by bipolar disorder.  Johnson & Johnson aggressively marketed the drug from 1999-2005 for use in elderly patients with dementia and children with disabilities, despite not receiving approval for childhood use until 2006.  The government investigations revealed that Johnson & Johnson offered sales representatives incentives to promote unapproved uses to doctors, paid kickbacks to nursing home pharmacies, and offered doctors trips and monetary reward if they prescribed Risperdal to more patients.  Onmicare, the leading long term care pharmacy in the U.S., paid $98 million to settle charges that it received compensation for pushing physicians to prescribe Risperdal to nursing home patients.

In the first personal injury lawsuit to go to trial, a 21-year-old male claimed that Risperdal caused him to develop gynecomastia, a condition were boys or men experience swelling of the breast tissue, caused by an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone.  He was prescribed Risperdal at age 9 even though it was not approved for use by children at the time.  He claimed the drug caused pain, rapid weight gain, damage to his endocrine system, and emotional trauma.  Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle his case on the first day of trial, and later that same month paid settlements in five other personal injury cases involving Risperdal.  Under the agreements, the settlement amounts for each case were kept confidential and Johnson & Johnson was not required to admit any wrongdoing.  The company continues to deny liability for Risperdal injuries.

In an attempt to expose potential conflicts of interest in healthcare, the Affordable Care Act requires full disclosure of financial relationships between drug makers and physicians.  Patients who develop gynecomastia following Risperdal use continue to seek compensation for physical and emotional injuries.  Settlements typically include financial compensation, medical treatment, and counseling services.

If you wish to learn more about legal options available to those affected by the use of Risperdal or other dangerous and defective drugs, contact the Louisville, Kentucky personal injury lawyers at Thomas Law Offices for more information.

Tracking Down the Silence behind Antibiotic-Related Injuries

Published on Aug 26, 2015 at 1:06 pm in Dangerous Drugs, Multi-district Litigation, Product Liability.

Despite how often antibiotics are prescribed for multitudes of reasons every day, some types of antibiotics have potentially dangerous side effects. The most risky types of antibiotics are generally those belonging to the fluoroquinolone family. Levofloxacin (often referred to as Levaquin) and ciprofloxacin (often referred to as Cipro)—both fluoroquinolones—are two of the drugs most commonly regarded as to having some of the most serious adverse side effects among all drugs. Avelox is the name of another fluoroquinolone that can have dangerous side effects.

Year after year, cases of serious, incurable impairments and even deaths are reported as a result of side effects from taking these three drugs, yet the drugs remain on the market and the FDA remains stubbornly silent regarding the matter. Why is that?

The answer to that question largely lies with that fact that physicians are often unaware of just how dangerous these side effects can be or do not pay close attention to the changes in FDA warnings. According to data accessible at RxISK.org which is an independently-ran research site, reported medical conditions that result from adverse side effects from fluoroquinolones far exceed those reported that result from all other types of antibiotics. Over 79,000 cases have been linked to Cipro alone. This includes over 1,700 deaths during the last 10 years.

The Realities of Warning Labels

In the grand scheme of things, the above numbers still look slight when compared to how many prescriptions physicians write for fluoroquinolones on a regular basis. Millions of prescriptions are handed out every year for these drugs. Many physicians simply feel that antibiotics are a safe, generalized approach to curing many ailments and hand out prescriptions unnecessarily. Many others fail to tell their patients about the array of negative possible side effects.

The vast majority of physicians also rarely take initiative when it comes to reporting side effects to the FDA. This often results in data points that are largely inaccurate and/or difficult to prove. According to this editorial written by health writer Idelle Davidson, there is currently a study starting up at University of California at San Diego which may help researchers gain a better idea of how fluoroquinolone-based side effect symptoms progress and how the FDA can better inform patients and physicians regarding these side effects.

According to the FDA, all warning labels currently placed on both Levaquin and Cipro display all of the information patients need to be aware of. All fluoroquinolones carry a warning with a black border, in fact, which is the FDA’s strongest grade of warning. Problems often arise when physicians don’t inform patients about the seriousness of these warnings and fail to take factors like age and current joint/tendon health into consideration.

One of the largest issues with injuries caused by side effects from taking fluoroquinolones is the fact that many of the injuries related to taking the drugs are permanent. Irreversible tendon ruptures and nerve damage top the list of serious ailments caused by fluoroquinolones and can cause lifelong pain and suffering. Other adverse side effects include disorientation, convulsions, anxiety, cognitive disorders, and difficulty breathing/walking. Many of the cognitive issues caused from adverse side effects are also irreversible.

Ending the Silence

The fact that many of the most serious side effects caused by fluoroquinolones are irreversible should be cause for concern among physicians and patients alike, especially when other families of antibiotics have a safer track record and potentially cause side effects that are easily curable. When Idelle Davidson interviewed Beatrice Golomb, a professor of medicine at UCSD, Golomb said the following:

“It’s true that every antibiotic class has the potential for some problems, but in many cases they are curable. These people seem to be left with a life-altering situation from which many years out they haven’t recovered. The reason we should care is that many of these problems are needless sources of permanent, horrifying, life-altering effects that did not need to happen.”

Quotes like this are why UCSD feels the fluoroquinolone study is so important. Studies can lead to cold, hard facts that will help the FDA and physicians become more informed. This, in turn, will help patients become more informed and may lead to other antibiotics being prescribed more often in place of Levaquin, Cipro, and Avelox. With knowledge comes a possibility of an end to silence on the matter.

One other way to end the silence regarding the dangers of fluoroquinolone-based antibiotics is by taking legal action against the manufacturers of these drugs that fail to make the side effects of their drugs better known. At least 3,400 cases have been filed against Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of Levaquin, since 2006. Most cases claimed the company failed to adequately warn physicians regarding the risks of tendon-related injuries.

Currently, there are roughly 60 pending federal cases against Johnson & Johnson as well as against Bayer, the manufacturer of both Cipro and Avelox. The plaintiffs claim the drugs caused irreversible peripheral neuropathy and/or nerve damage and were sold without proper warning labels depicting those risks. All of these cases have now been combined in what is known as an MDL, or Multi-district litigation. The MDL, known as In Re Fluoroquinolone Products Liability Litigation MDL 262, will be heard in front of Judge John Tunheim in the District of Minnesota.  A copy of the transfer Order is attached 2015-8-17 In Re Fluoroquinolone MDL Transfer Order.

Lawsuits like these can’t cure irreversible nerve or tendon damage, unfortunately, and they cannot take away years of pain. But they can help these drug manufacturers realize that their products are causing serious harm and many physicians do not realize how much harm they’re causing. In time, these drugs may even be taken off the market if enough cases are successfully filed.

If you or someone you know has suffered from personal injuries you feel may be related to side effects caused by Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox, or any of the drugs on this list, contact Thomas Law Offices today to see how we can be of assistance. It’s time to put an end to the silence regarding the dangers of antibiotics.

First Risperdal Trial Starts In Mass Tort Action

Published on Feb 25, 2015 at 12:32 am in Dangerous Drugs.

Whether the drug makers failed to properly warn doctors and the public about the side effects of Risperdal is the issue being litigated in Philadelphia this winter. Over 1200 cases have been consolidated in a mass tort action filed there, and the first case began in late January.

Risperdal is an antipsychotic drug made by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which is a subsidiary company of Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson has already been fined billions of dollars in a settlement for charges that the company illegally marketed Risperdal. In a joint investigation with the U.S. Department of Justice and several states, the government found that the makers aggressively marketed doctors to prescribe Risperdal for unapproved uses, specifically for children with disabilities and the elderly with dementia.

The first case being tried in Philadelphia involves a 20 year-old male who is autistic. He took Risperdal when he was 8 years-old and later developed “large female breasts.” The growths appear to be permanent, with the only way to remove them being a mastectomy.

Petrochemical Industry Hiding Benzene Dangers

Published on Feb 4, 2015 at 10:57 am in Dangerous Drugs.

The petrochemical industry has spent at least $36 million to fund scientific research trying to minimize the dangers of benzene. This effort comes after independent studies have linked benzene to leukemia and other cancers.  In 2004, the National Cancer Institute reported a study finding there’s no safe exposure level for people working with benzene.

Exposure dangers

Workers in the petrochemical industry have been among the most exposed to benzene and its effects. Benzene is a component of crude oil, and is used to make plastics, lubricants, dyes, pesticides, and adhesives. Over the last 10 years, lawsuits have been filed on behalf of workers who were sickened or died from benzene-related exposure, yet the industry is still trying to debate whether benzene is causing these rare cancers and other illnesses.

Study Shows Risks of Cipro, Avelox and Levaquin

Published on Jan 10, 2015 at 9:00 am in Dangerous Drugs.

A new study has documented the risk of nerve damage from taking powerful antibiotics in the class of fluoroquinolones. The best known of these drugs are Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Avelox (moxifloxacin) and Levaquin (levofloxacin).

The study, published in the September issue of the journal Neurology, found that current users of this class of antibiotics were at a higher risk of developing nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy, than non-users. The study further found that current new users of the drugs had the highest risk.

Oral fluoroquinolones are a strong class of antibiotics and one of the most often prescribed by doctors in the U.S. Last year, the FDA issued a warning regarding the risk of nerve damage from taking any oral doses of Cipro, Avelox, Levaquin, or others in this class of drugs. These risks came to light from adverse events reported from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System and from published case reports. Absent still was any evidence from large epidemiologic studies that could establish a solid link between this drug and peripheral neuropathy.