Prescription Info Used to Improve Sales or Safety?

June 22, 2007,

"How do pharmaceutical companies know which doctors prescribe the latest and most expensive brand name drugs?

They have inside information on the prescribing habits of virtually every doctor in the United States. Pharmaceutical and device manufacturers buy this information from the American Medical Association and from companies that match the AMA's data with pharmacy records.

While such practices have gone on for years, the issue is expected to be a hot topic at this week's annual meeting of the AMA in Chicago, with some groups planning to protest during the gathering at the Hilton Chicago.

"Doctors are not aware that companies are out there that know every prescription a doctor prescribes," said Dr. John Santa, an internist at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and consultant to the Prescription Project, which is part of a coalition trying to curb drug companies' access to doctor prescribing information."

Read the full article in the Chicago Tribune.

Untold Injuries From Hospital Tubing Misconnections

June 20, 2007,

"When nurse Julie Thao put a spinal drug in Jasmine Gant's arm at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison a year ago, the fatal mistake struck many as a freak event.
But Thao's intravenous delivery of an epidural pain medication was an unusually public example of a quiet but dangerous health care problem: tubing misconnections.

At least 1,200 times in the past nine years, U.S. hospital workers have inadvertently given patients solutions meant to flow through one tube -- an IV, an epidural, a feeding tube, a bladder catheter, a blood line -- into another tube, frequently causing harm and sometimes death. The true tally is much greater."

Read the full article in the Wisconsin State Journal.

CDC Wastes Case on Consultants

June 18, 2007,

"The top U.S. public health agency spent millions of dollars on a Hollywood consultant, a lavish visitors center, and a 70-foot-by-25 foot ``wall of plasma televisions,'' a senator's report said.
Using some money intended to fight bioterrorism, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paid out more than $1.7 million since 2001 to get producers to include public health messages in television shows and movies, according to the report, issued today by Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican. One consultant is a former CDC employee, the report said.

The Atlanta-based agency last week asked for more money and an airplane to help with the fight against tuberculosis after the travels of an infected man called attention to gaps in controlling the disease. Coburn, a doctor who sits on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the CDC has mismanaged the $9.2 billion budget it already has, while infections such as with the AIDS virus keep growing."

Read the full article at

Mississippi Atty General Sues State Farm

June 16, 2007,

"Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood sued State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. on Monday, claiming the company failed to honor an agreement for a mass settlement of claims over Hurricane Katrina damage.

In January, Hood agreed to drop State Farm from a lawsuit his office filed against several insurance companies. Hood did that after State Farm settled with lawyers for homeowners on a $50 million payout to about 35,000 southern Mississippi policyholders who hadn't sued the company but could have their claims reopened.

But the pact fell apart after a federal judge refused to endorse it. Hood has said he didn't negotiate the terms of that settlement and shared the judge's concerns about the deal."

Read the full article at Crain's Chicago Business.

Families Call for Hospital Safety

June 14, 2007,

"When her 18-month-old daughter Josie died after a series of medical mistakes at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore six years ago, Sorrel King was consumed by grief and anger, wanting to destroy the hospital and even end her own life. But with three other children to live for, she and her husband Tony decided they had to help fix a broken system.
"We had to do something good that would prevent this from ever happening to a child again," Ms. King says. When the hospital offered a financial settlement, Ms. King, a former fashion designer who had become a stay-at-home mom, asked Johns Hopkins to take some of the money back to start a children's safety program. She also created the Josie King Foundation to fund safety initiatives at other hospitals.

Now, to take the message to a broader audience of both consumers and medical professionals, she is launching a new Web site,, with her own blog on patient safety; an online community where families can post their medical-error experiences and provide emotional support; advice from medical and legal experts on how to avoid error and deal with it when occurs; and resources for hospitals seeking to improve safety."

Read the full article on the Wall Street Journal Online.

More Concerns With Contact Lens Infection

June 12, 2007,

"FDA issued a Preliminary Public Health Notification to inform healthcare professionals of a recent increase in reported cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis in soft contact lens wearers. The infections are potentially related to the use of Complete MoisturePlus Multipurpose Contact Lens Solution."

Read the FDA's full release here.

Hospital Nightshift Nightmare

June 10, 2007,

"It's midnight in Charleston, South Carolina, and something has gone terribly wrong in room 749 of the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital. The patient, Lewis Blackman, is a 15-year-old boy recovering from surgery to correct a relatively common birth defect called pectus excavatum, or sunken chest. The condition is not life-threatening and never seemed to slow Lewis down. A whiz in every school subject, he acted with the South Carolina Shakespeare Company and, at age seven, appeared in a long-running TV commercial for Sun-Drop soda with Dale Earnhardt. But a sunken chest can sometimes lead to respiratory difficulties, so Lewis and his parents decided to go for a minimally invasive surgical correction: inserting a metal strut to support the breastbone.

Three days after the surgery, Lewis should be feeling better. Instead, despite doses of a powerful painkiller called Toradol, the boy is racked with agonizing pain -- "five on a scale of five," he pantingly tells his mother, Helen Haskell, an archaeologist. Oddly, the pain seems centered in his abdomen, not his chest. Nurses are certain the boy is suffering from gas, a diagnosis reinforced earlier that evening by Dr. Craig Murray, the chief resident on call. Dr. Murray had stopped by and prescribed a suppository for what he believed was probably constipation, a common problem after surgery."

Read the full article from the Reader's Digest

More Truth To The Medical Malpractice "Crisis"

June 6, 2007,

"The study ("No Basis for High Insurance Rates") shows that the med mal insurers are gouging doctors, padding their pockets with excessive premiums and driving up the cost of health care. These same insurance companies have of course been blaming high premiums on a so-called "malpractice crisis" that doesn't exist. We have an insurance crisis, not a medical malpractice crisis – and this report sets the record straight."

Read the full report here.

WTC Dust From 9/11 Blamed For Attorney's Death

June 4, 2007,

"New York City’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, has for the first time directly linked a death to exposure to dust from the destruction of the World Trade Center.

In a letter made public yesterday, Dr. Hirsch said that he was certain “beyond a reasonable doubt” that dust from the twin towers contributed to the death of Felicia Dunn-Jones, 42, a civil rights lawyer who was engulfed on Sept. 11 as she ran from her office a block away from the trade center.

She later developed a serious cough and had trouble breathing, and she died five months after the terrorist attack.

Dr. Hirsch said he had decided to amend Mrs. Dunn-Jones’s death certificate to indicate that exposure to trade center dust “was contributory to her death.” The manner of death will be changed from natural causes to homicide."

Read the full article in the NY Times.

JAMA Study Emphasizes Crucial Role of Lawsuits For Drug Safety

June 2, 2007,

No great surprise to the readers of this blog, but a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that litigation serves an important role in protection American from dangerous drugs.An excerpt is found below:

"In the past decade, several widely used prescription medications have been observed to cause life-threatening adverse effects, and some have been removed from the market. When an approved medication is found to be unsafe, the courts are sometimes called on to determine fault and allocate remedies for injured parties. But in modern prescription drug cases, litigation has taken on additional significance. There are often important gaps in the ascertainment and reporting of adverse effects associated with prescription drugs, and the balance of information presented to physicians about the risks and benefits of medications may understate the former and inflate the latter.1 However, once it approves a drug, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has limited authority to mandate further collection of data to better define adverse effects or to ensure compliance with suggested alterations in marketing practices."

You may buy the full article here.

Lawsuit Loan Lending Companies

May 31, 2007,

A relatively new area of consumer lending has sprung up, in the wake of big insurance's often used tactic of 'delay, deny, defend'.These 'Lawsuit Loan' lending companies extend loans to plaintiffs in injury cases as a way to not only financially assist the plaintiff, but to fight back against insurance company's delay strategies.

Many times plaintiffs in injury actions are unable to work, and have medical bills that pile up and remain unpaid.This may force a plaintiff to take a settlement that is far less than what his/her case is worth.The 'lawsuit loan' allows the plaintiff to financially survive while his/her claim is brought to a full, and just, resolution.

There are many companies out there, but be careful.Many of these lending companies have very high interest rates and fees.Our firm recommends Preferred Capital Lending in Chicago.They are a licensed lending company in Illinois and offer fair and reasonable rates.

Fighting Back Against State Farm

May 29, 2007,

Below is an ad found in Bloomington, Illinois, the corporate headquarters of State Farm Insurance.It was paid for the the Scruggs Katrina Group, who is helping Katrina victims put their lives back together.The ad is in response to a marketing campaign by State Farm along the Gulf Coast, flying their 'Like A Good Neighbor' slogan while denying thousands of Katrina related claims.

Illinois Judge Wants To Light Up Dimissed 'Light' Cigarette Case

May 26, 2007,

"EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- A judge whose $10.1 billion judgment against Philip Morris USA in a lawsuit over light cigarettes was thrown out on appeal is asking a court whether he can revive the case.

Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron asked the Mount Vernon-based 5th District Appellate Court of Illinois this month to rule whether he has authority to reopen the lawsuit. Byron cited potentially new evidence stemming from a separate tobacco case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Byron ruled in favor of smokers in March 2003, saying that Philip Morris -- now the nation's biggest cigarette maker -- had misled customers into believing they were buying a less harmful cigarette....

But the attorney in that suit, Stephen Tillery of St. Louis, now says his original argument is supported by the U.S. solicitor general in a separate case before the nation's high court. Paul Clement -- the Bush administration's top Supreme Court lawyer -- said in the new case that the FTC had never authorized or ordered Marlboro Lights to be labeled as "lights" or use the words "lower tar and nicotine."

Read the full article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

$2.8 Million Settlement for Illinois Bed Sore Case

May 24, 2007,

"CHICAGO - A $2,325,000 settlement was reached April 19 in a pressure sore and wrongful death action against Senior Lifestyle Maplewood's Kingsley Place nursing facility, a woman's treating physician and a home health agency (John Mozenter, Personal Representative of the Estate of Marilyn Mozenter, v. Senior Lifestyle Maplewood Ltd. Partnership, d/b/a Kingsley Place At Lincoln Square, et al., No. 2 L 16293, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.)."


Avandia Linked to Heart Attack Risk

May 22, 2007,

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine reported a studyindicating a 48% increased risk of heart attack with the diabetes drug Avandia.Avandia is taken by more than over 1 million people and generated sales of over $3 billion for GlaxoSmithKline last year.

Could this be another Vioxx?Well, not to the same scale, but the author of the recent study, Dr. Steven Nissin, was one of the main critics of Vioxx.We will have to wait to see just how much Glaxo new before this study came out.