February 2008 capitol observations



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***CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
The Big Mules Are Able To Hide Their Campaign Money

 

The National Republican Committee – masters in the game of dirty tricks in politics – is already hard at work setting up their “Swift-Boat”-like groups in hopes of winning the presidency and regaining a majority in Congress. Because of a strategy devised by Karl Rove, and the dedication of his army of minions in working his plan, the national Republicans have been able to do a super job of organization. The national Republicans have set up groups with names that appear to be worthy and noble, and they have been able to rake in large sums of money. As a result, they have spent hundreds of millions carrying out their mission, which is neither worthy nor noble. New groups that are already being set up to carry out the dirty tricks campaigns will be run by masters of deceit and distortion. Interestingly, these folks will even go after their own when it serves their selfish political purposes. A prime example of that sort of thing was the attack on Senator John McCain in the South Carolina 2000 Republican primary by none other than Karl Rove. What he did to McCain during that race was as bad as it gets.


All of us should be on the lookout for groups like Freedom Watch, Coalition for a Conservative Majority, American Taxpayers’ Alliance, and many others that are being set up for use during this political year. When you find men like Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich involved in a group, get ready for a barrage of dirty tricks financed by corporate wrongdoers. It’s high time for the American people to stand up to men like Rove, DeLay, and Newt and fight back. While the best way to handle them ultimately is at the ballot box, good people should ban together now and expose the groups for what they are before the actual voting time arrives. These groups are most vulnerable because they aren’t able to deal with the truth. When exposed, they will wind up like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, and we all know how she fared.
It is absolutely essential for Congress to pass legislation that will curtail the activities of these groups. No group – regardless whether it is set up by Republicans, Democrats or independents – should be able to hide the sources of their funding and disguise the amounts spent and who gets their money. Until these groups are exposed and their despicable activities banned, the political system will never work as our forefathers intended.

Keep Up The Pressure On The Politicians
If each American citizen who really wants the political system in our country changed would take the time to contact their U.S. Senators and member of Congress and ask them to support campaign finance reform – and then follow up with their request on a weekly basis – some real change would come about. Only when enough people get involved and demand action on this front will anything of consequence happen. It’s too important to all Americans for them not to get involved in this battle.

***CONGRESSIONAL UPDATE
FDA Labeling Rule Is A Product Liability Shield For Drug Makers
I have known all along that the Bush Administration wants to limit the situations where drug companies can change warning labels when they know of unsafe conditions without waiting for government approval. But now congressional Democrats are charging that the recent proposal from the Food and Drug Administration is a ploy to shield drug companies from liability for unsafe products. As we have reported, the FDA's proposed rule concerns regulations that permit companies to promptly update their drug and device labels with new safety information without waiting for FDA approval. The FDA says its recent proposal would merely "codify the agency's longstanding view on when a change to the labeling of an approved drug… may be made in advance of the agency's review of such change." That’s far from true since the proposal does more than just codify current practice. The Democrats argue that the proposal would instead "drastically limit the situations" in which a manufacturer is permitted to alter a warning label without waiting for FDA to approval.
FDA's current regulations permit manufacturers to change their labels to add or strengthen a contraindication, warning, precaution, or adverse reaction without waiting for approval by the FDA of such a change. Known as the "changes being effected (CBE) supplements" regulations in theory, they are meant to make sure that patients and healthcare providers are made aware of safety risks associated with their medical products at the earliest possible moment. Under the FDA's proposal, a manufacturer would be prohibited from adding or strengthening a contraindication, warning, precaution, or adverse reaction in the absence of FDA approval unless there is "evidence of a causal association." This is a much higher standard than was previously applied in FDA's regulations and it "will inevitably result in fewer company-initiated warnings." A number of Democrats in the House and Senate wrote FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach asking why the FDA is making this move. In their view, it is designed to bolster the argument by companies defending against lawsuits that the regulations precluded them from adding warnings, precautions, and adverse reactions in the absence of FDA approval, whereas under FDA's current regulations, they would have been free to do so. In the letter it was stated:
We are concerned that the intent of this proposal is to protect companies in the pharmaceutical and device industry from being held liable for marketing products they know are unsafe. Such a policy change comes at the expense of consumers and violates the mission of the FDA. The issuance of the proposed CBE rule is not an isolated case, but part of a pattern of actions in the Bush Administration's final months to permanently insulate the drug and device industry from liability.
They are correct that the FDA failed to identify a public health basis for why this proposal was necessary at this point in time. The FDA has not identified a single problem with these regulations that would warrant a change. The letter's authors asked the FDA to justify the expenditure of the agency's resources on this effort.
The Democrats are correct that the CBE proposal has "no purpose other than to shore up the industry's legal arguments for avoiding liability." Interestingly, the FDA proposal was cited soon after its being made by the Solicitor General in a letter to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the drug industry's argument that FDA approval preempts individual product liability cases. It is now apparent that the U.S. House and Senate are in the fight to protect the public in the preemption battle.
Source: Insurance Journal

President Bush Wins Again And Children Lose
For the second time, the U.S. House of Representatives has failed to override President Bush's veto of a bill that would greatly increase spending on a popular children's health insurance program. The House fell 15 votes short of obtaining the two-thirds majority needed for an override. The final vote was 260-152, with 42 Republicans siding with Democrats. It’s difficult to understand how the President and the 152 House members could turn their backs on children. There has been enough money paid out on no-bid contracts to political friends in Iraq – and enough money virtually stolen over the past five years in the occupation of that war-torn country – to have totally funded the children’s insurance program as well as hundreds of other needed programs.

The Rest Of The Year In Washington
By the time this issue is received, Congress should have passed a legislative package that hopefully will help stave off a looming recession. I really don’t expect anything other than that of real substance to happen in Congress between now and the November elections. The Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate, however, could prove me wrong. There is a great deal of important legislation that badly needs to be passed. Clearly, President Bush and Congress had to act in a bi-partisan manner to head off the recession that may already be with us. In fact, they really didn’t have any choice but to act. But Congress can’t let the President use the recession as an excuse to help the rich and powerful at the expense of the rest of America other than a stimulus package. Hopefully, that didn’t happen. Because we are in an election year, the prospects don’t seem too good for a great deal of needed legislation to pass. Hopefully, I will be proved wrong in making that assessment.

The Health Care Industry Hires Another Powerful Lobbyist
The media reports that the American Health Care Association has hired Patton Boggs LLP to lobby the federal government on Medicare-related issues shouldn’t have come as a big surprise. The firm will join a virtual army of lobbyists who work for the powerful drug industry. Novartis AG, Merck & Co., and Sanofi-Aventis SA are among the members of the Washington, D.C.-based American Health Care Association. Lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches, under a federal law enacted in 1995. Under that law, lobbyists must register with Congress within 45 days of being hired or engaging in lobbying.
Unfortunately, ordinary folks can’t afford to hire high-priced lobbyists to represent them and protect their interests in our nation’s capital. Healthcare issues are critically important to the American people, and most all of the decisions made in Washington are influenced by drug industry lobbyists. That’s why it’s necessary to elect public officials who are not “owned” by the powerful special interests and especially by the drug industry. I was told several years ago by a local doctor that the United States subsidized the rest of the world when it comes to the price of prescription drugs. I had never thought of that before, but I am now convinced that was a correct assessment. The Bush Administration and the drug companies pushed the Medicare Prescription Act through Congress, and it’s one of the worst things to happen in recent years. It’s a prime example of how strong the drug and insurance lobby is in our nation’s capital.
Source: Forbes


***PRODUCT LIABILITY UPDATE
Proposed Roof Crush Rule Remains Inadequate
The Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released last month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concedes that testing vehicles for roof crush on both sides of the roof is effective, but the proposal makes no mention of the safety advantages of doing this. The proposal is still a static test - one based on mathematical calculations, rather than a dynamic physical test - and it still is at 2.5 times the weight of the vehicle. The proposal absolutely ignores ejection and containment in the vehicle during rollovers, in which 10,500 people die each year and another 17,000 are seriously injured.
To justify a strong rollover protection standard, NHTSA should address roof crush, ejection and containment as one standard. By dividing it into three standards, the roof crush portion of the protection proposal continues to be totally inadequate. We have just tried a rollover case against Ford Motor Co. and know from that and prior trials that dynamic rollover testing is essential. How NHTSA and the car makers can ignore ejection in their testing is a mystery.
Source: Public Citizen

Defective Medical Implant Devices
As our population ages, the number of citizens with medical implants will increase. Medical implants are being used in almost every organ of the human body. Medical implants have made it possible for millions of people to participate in activities their physical limitations would not otherwise allow. For some, medical implants offer the means to remain independent of nursing homes, assisted living facilities or in-home service providers. Unfortunately, persons living with medical implants have to worry not only about prolonged security checks at the airport, but also about whether the medical implant will fail inside their bodies causing pain, additional surgeries, and/or death.
One would think that before a medical device is implanted inside someone’s body, the manufacturer would ensure that nothing could go wrong. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Almost monthly, we hear reports of yet another medical implant recall. Heart devices, cardiac pacemakers, silicone breast implants, intrauterine contraceptive devices, hip implants, joint replacements, defibrillators, and even jaw implants have been recalled by their manufacturers. There are numerous problems with recalls; but, the primary problem is that recall notices are provided to hospitals and surgeons but not the patients. Consequently, a defective medical implant can be recalled but the patient remains ignorant until the device fails inside his or her body. If the failure does not lead to the death of the patient, the failure will require another operation or operations. The patient is subjected to more pain and suffering along with another recovery period. Finally, the patient is saddled with the costs of the corrective surgery and may lose wages from missing work.
Our firm is currently investigating a number of medical implant device failures. In one, the product was recalled, but the surgery occurred in California over five years ago. The client moved to Georgia and thus had no knowledge of the recall. If notice had been provided, the defective device could have been removed before it failed. Removal before failure still requires corrective surgery, but, a failure inside the body is more likely to lead to more severe injuries or death. Patients receiving medical implants or patients with existing medical implants should research their implants, the manufacturer, and the recall history of identical or similar products. Remember, because the manufacturer will not inform the patient of a recall, patients should check the FDA’s recall website at www.recalls.gov to see whether there is a recall on their device.
Additionally, patients with medical implants should report any complications immediately to their treating physician. Over eight years ago, our firm handled a case for a client with a defective knee replacement implant. The patient began to experience extreme pain approximately six months after the surgery. He consistently reported his pain and discomfort to the treating physician. After considerable time passed, the surgeon decided he had attempted enough non-invasive treatments and elected to remove the artificial knee for an analysis. The artificial knee had begun to break down ,causing the patient’s bone to contact the metal parts of the device. The surgeon knew the knee was not supposed to break down and suggested the client maintain possession of the knee and call a lawyer. We filed the case, only to be thrown out on summary judgment because the client had came to us over two years after he first experienced pain. One would expect the statute of limitations to begin to run in such cases when the doctor removed the artificial knee and advised the client that the device was the cause of his pain. But, a federal district court judge ruled the statute began to run as soon as the patient began to experience pain even though the patient’s doctor was telling the patient that his problem was unrelated to the artificial knee. Therefore, patients with implants not only have to monitor whether their implant is causing health problems or has been recalled, but must also be vigilant in seeking legal assistance. That surely seems to put responsibility in the wrong place given that manufacturers know about recalls and have the ability to issue appropriate notices.
Defective medical implants are serious threats to citizens of this country. As manufacturers continue to develop more implants, the frequency of recalls will continue to rise. Manufacturers and the government don’t believe it’s necessary to inform patients of defects and recalls; thus, patients are left to fend for themselves. That is a sad commentary on our times.

Van In New Brunswick Crash Is Banned In 40 States
A tragic accident that occurred recently in Bathurst, New Brunswick, involved a 15-passenger van. These vans have long been banned from transportation of public school students in most of the United States and in some Canadian provinces. The design of the 15-seat Ford Club Wagon made it dangerously susceptible to personal injury for passengers and drivers. In the New Brunswick accident, seven members of a high school basketball team and one adult passenger died on January 12th when the Ford Club Wagon in which they were traveling fishtailed and struck an oncoming tractor-trailer.
Similar accidents in the United States have caused many deaths and serious injuries. As we have reported, in 2005 Congress prohibited the sale of 15-passenger vans to transport public school children to and from school. Unfortunately, the vehicles can still be used for extracurricular activities and by private schools, churches, and universities. These vans were manufactured as cargo vans and were never redesigned by the carmakers to safely transport people.
When five or more passengers are riding in a 15-passanger van, the likelihood of rollover increases dramatically. Because the rear of such vans extends from 4 to 5 1/2 feet beyond the rear wheels, any loading of five or more people or a combination of luggage and equipment, causes instability during emergency maneuvers such as sudden turns to avoid a pedestrian, an answer or another vehicle. This causes these vans to fishtail, and because they are top heavy and overloaded in the rear, they are prone to roll over and cause devastating crashes. Passengers are often ejected and most of them are usually killed or seriously injured.
The Washington, DC consumer advocacy group Safety Forum, aptly describes the Ford Club Wagon as "a death trap on wheels." Like many SUVs, it has a dangerously high center of gravity that becomes worse with increased passenger and cargo load. The New Brunswick van did almost exactly what Public Citizen describes—it fishtailed out of control and was struck broadside by the tractor-trailer. Vans of this type are banned from transporting schoolchildren in several Canadian provinces, including Nova Scotia, which borders New Brunswick. Unfortunately, New Brunswick has no restrictions on their use.
According to Public Citizen, retrofitting vans of this type with dual rear wheels significantly improves stability and handling. The fix can be done for $300-$400 per vehicle, but a long-term solution is also essential. The vans must be redesigned to protect passengers in rollover and side impact crashes, and to comply with school bus and other federal safety standards. It is unbelievable, considering all of the outstanding knowledge, that the federal government hasn’t totally banned these vans from hauling passengers.
Source: Public Citizen
***MASS TORTS UPDATE
Vioxx Settlement Update
As was reported previously, on November 9, 2007, Merck agreed to pay $4.85 billion dollars to settle the claims of persons who suffered a heart attack or stroke while taking the pain reliever, Vioxx. Individuals who suffered a heart attack or stroke while taking Vioxx and have a filed or tolled claim are eligible to participate in the Settlement Program. Those who have not previously filed a lawsuit or submitted their claim for tolling in the federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) court are not eligible to participate but are free to continue pursuing their claims through the court system. The reaction to the Settlement Program has been very positive. Lawyers and their clients from around the country are taking necessary steps to participate in the Program.
In conjunction with the settlement, the MDL court, as well as the courts overseeing consolidated proceedings in New Jersey, California, and Texas, ordered that all claims relating to Vioxx be registered. The purpose of registration is to inform the courts and parties of the total number of Vioxx claims in the country. In order for an eligible claimant to participate in the Program, his or her claim must be registered. The deadline for registering Vioxx claims was January 15, 2008. Thus far, over 57,100 individual claims have been registered. This is very encouraging as lawyers anticipate enrolling their eligible clients into the program by the February 29, 2008 deadline. Releases have been submitted for over 3000 claimants. Meeting both the registration and enrollment deadlines is critical to the success of the settlement. Current progress toward meeting these deadlines is most encouraging.
Another positive development is that the BrownGreer firm has been appointed as the Claims Administrator for the Settlement Program. BrownGreer, which was started by Orran Brown and Lynn Greer in 2002, has achieved a nationwide reputation for fairness and efficiency in administering other mass tort settlements, including those arising out of the Diet Drugs, Sulzer, and Dalkon Shield litigations. As Claims Administrator, BrownGreer is receiving all registrations and will ultimately evaluate each claim that is enrolled in the Settlement Program. BrownGreer has done a very good job of getting up and running quickly, and we anticipate they will do an excellent job fulfilling their responsibilities in the future. Andy Birchfield, Leigh O’Dell, and Roger Smith are still working hard to make sure that all of the settlement goals are achieved. Andy and Leigh have already been to a number of states and they have done a great job of explaining the settlement and answering questions from lawyers who represent large numbers of clients. For further information about the Settlement Program, visit www.officialvioxxsettlement.com or www.browngreer.com.


Lawyers Resolve Potential Ethical Concerns In Vioxx Settlement
In a related matter, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, the federal judge overseeing the Vioxx settlement, believes lawyers have resolved all potential ethical concerns about the agreement. Some lawyers for Vioxx patients had challenged a provision of the settlement that bars lawyers with clients who participate in the settlement from representing others who opt out. That could force lawyers to advise all or none of their clients to accept the agreement. However, Judge Fallon reported that the November 2007 agreement was amended so that lawyers are directed to exercise their "independent judgment in the best interests of each client individually before recommending enrollment in the program."
Judge Fallon is satisfied that "nothing in the agreement imposes on a lawyer any impermissible restriction on the practice of law." The judge met with lawyers on both sides of the agreement during a hearing in New Orleans on January 18th. Tens of thousands of Vioxx users who sued Merck have tentatively signed on to the agreement, which means the settlement will go forward. It should be noted that none of the changes to the settlement agreement changed the parties' original intentions. If things go as planned Merck will start making payments in August.
Source: Associated Press


Many Unfavorable Drug Studies Aren’t Published
Nearly a third of antidepressant drug studies are never published in the medical literature, and nearly all of those happen to show that the drug being tested failed to work. And in some of the studies that are published, unfavorable results have been recast to make the medicine appear more effective than it really is, according to a report released last month. The research team was led by Erick Turner of the Oregon Health & Science University. Even if this selective publication is not deliberate, this can be bad news for patients, they wrote in their report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Selective publication can lead doctors to make inappropriate prescribing decisions that may not be in the best interest of their patients and, thus, the public health.
The idea that unfavorable test results get quietly tucked away so nobody will see them -- sometimes call the "file drawer effect" — has been around for years. The Turner team was able to study the question because the FDA has a registry in which companies are supposed to log details of their drug tests before the experiments are begun. They could see which experiments approved by the FDA between 1987 and 2004 were ultimately publicized in the medical literature and the main criteria the researchers planned to measure success.
Of the 74 studies that started for the 12 antidepressants, 38 produced positive results for the drug. All but one of those studies was published. However, when it came to the 36 studies with negative or questionable results, as assessed by the FDA, only three were published; another 11 were turned around and written as if the drug had worked. The team reported that "not only were positive results more likely to be published, but studies that were not positive” were often “published in a way that conveyed a positive outcome." The following are examples:


  • Of the seven negative studies done on GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil, five were never published,




  • Three studies for GSK's Wellbutrin SR were found, but the two negative ones never made it to print.




  • There were five studies for Pfizer's Zoloft, but the three showing the drug to be ineffective were not published and a fourth study, ruled as questionable by the FDA, was written and published to make it appear that the drug worked.

Source: Reuters



Lawsuits Are Being Filed Against Drug Makers Over Cholesterol Pills
The makers of Vytorin and Zetia, the popular cholesterol drugs, are being sued in at least four states over allegations that Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. misled consumers into thinking the drugs were more effective than generic ones. The four lawsuits - filed in the states of New Jersey, New York, Florida and Washington - all seek class action status. Patients and medical insurers who paid for the expensive cholesterol drugs filed these suits. Merck and Schering-Plough had released a controversial study that raised questions about whether Vytorin and Zetia are more effective than generic drugs. The companies have a joint venture that markets Vytorin, which combines Merck's Zocor and Schering-Plough's Zetia.
A congressional committee is broadening its investigation of the two drug makers' handling of advertising for the products and the delay in releasing the Vytorin study. The study essentially found that Vytorin was no better at reducing plaque buildup than Zocor, which is available as an inexpensive generic drug. The study revealed that Vytorin did reduce cholesterol levels a little more than Zocor alone. Interestingly, Merck and Schering-Plough have pulled television ads for both Vytorin and Zetia. Our firm is looking at a number of potential claims involving these drugs, but thus far have not filed an actual lawsuit.
Source: Forbes.com

Hormone Therapy Update
According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer worldwide among women. It is the fifth most deadly cancer, killing about 502,000 people per year. All of us know a family who has had to deal with this most serious problem. A study published in the January issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that women who used combination hormone therapy for three or more years had a higher risk of lobular cancer. The study was led by Dr. Christopher Li of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and was designed to evaluate the relationship between combination hormone therapy and lobular breast cancers. Previous research indicated that five or more years of combined hormone therapy use was necessary to increase overall breast cancer risk. The study led by Dr. Li found that women who took combined hormone therapy for three years or more had four times the usual risk of lobular breast cancer.
The incidence of invasive lobular cancer rose by 52% in the United States between 1987 and 1999, and cases of ductal-lobular breast cancer rose by 96% during that time. According to Dr. Li, their research “suggests that the use of post-menopausal hormone-replacement therapy, specifically the use of combined estrogen-plus-progestin preparations, may be contributing to this increase.” Following the announcement of the results of the Women’s Health Initiative in July 2002, hormone therapy use fell sharply. The incidence of breast cancer dropped more than 8% between 2001 and 2004. Our firm has been involved in extensive litigation dealing with hormone therapy and breast cancer. I am convinced that there will be more litigation in this area of concern. Ted Meadows and Melissa Prickett from our firm are handling cases for clients at this time.

Source: Reuters



FDA Warns Of Deaths From Fentanyl Patch
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that the improper use of patches that emit the painkiller fentanyl is still killing people. This is the second warning by the agency in two years relating to the powerful narcotic. Some of the deaths came after doctors prescribed the patches to the wrong patients, according to the FDA. The drug is only for chronic pain in people used to narcotics, such as cancer patients, and can cause breathing problems for people new to this family of "opioid" painkillers. Yet the FDA has found cases where doctors prescribed it for headaches or post-surgical pain. The FDA said patients also accidentally overdose by using the patches incorrectly, such as putting on more than prescribed, replacing them too frequently, or getting them too hot. FDA Pain Chief Dr. Bob Rappaport observed:
While these products fill an important need, improper use and misuse can be life threatening. It is crucial that doctors prescribe these products appropriately, and that patients use them correctly.
The FDA first warned about improper patch use in 2005, announcing at that time it was investigating 120 deaths. Although the FDA has investigated the new reports for several months, the agency hasn’t revealed how many additional deaths the agency has learned of since that first warning. The number of reports is referred to as being small, but of concern because "they are preventable." The FDA ordered patch makers to create special medication guides that will come with every box, spelling out proper use in easy-to-understand language.
The consumer advocacy Institute for Safe Medication Practices highlighted some cases last summer, including one death. Absorbing fentanyl through the skin is a powerful way to deliver the potent drug. According to medical experts, this poses serious risk to anyone not already opioid-tolerant. Because there is a great need for the patches among the millions of chronic pain sufferers, the FDA isn't considering curbs on prescribing the patches. The following are among the FDA’s warnings relating to the patches:


  • Fentanyl patches can cause severe trouble breathing. Get emergency help if you have trouble breathing or extreme drowsiness with slowed breathing; feel faint, dizzy, confused; or have other unusual symptoms. These can be signs that you were prescribed too high a dose or took too much.




  • Fentanyl patches are only for round-the-clock pain that is moderate to severe and expected to last for weeks. They are not for sudden, occasional, or mild pain, or pain after surgery.




  • The patches should not be your first narcotic painkiller.




  • Ask your doctor how often to apply the patch, whether to reapply one that has fallen off, and how to replace it. Doing any of that wrong can cause an accidental overdose.




  • Do not use heating pads, electric blankets, saunas, or heated waterbeds, take very hot baths, or sunbathe while wearing a fentanyl patch. Heat may increase the drug's absorption, causing a life-threatening overdose. Call a doctor right away if body temperature becomes higher than 102 degrees while wearing a patch.

The patches were first approved in 1990 under the brand name Duragesic. Generic versions are now being sold by other manufacturers. It’s obvious that these patches must be used properly and with proper cautions. The fact that the patches are still killing folks – even though the numbers appear to be small – makes this a serious matter.


Source: Associated Press

Judge Denies Class In Fosamax Cases Against Merck
A federal judge has refused to certify a class for users of Fosamax, the osteoporosis drug, who wanted Merck & Co to set up a program to monitor them for an ailment involving jaw bone decay. The judge, in a ruling last month, denied motions to approve classes of current and former users of Fosamax in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana who have not been diagnosed with the ailment. The court found class treatment of these claims to be inappropriate because the claims “present too many individual questions of fact particular to each class member's claim."
Thus far, more than 360 product liability cases have been filed in federal courts against Merck by folks who have taken Fosamax. The suits allege that Fosamax caused the plaintiffs to either develop the ailment, known as osteonecrosis of the jaw, or to suffer an increased risk of developing the condition in the future. Based on what we have learned, I am convinced that Merck has extensive exposure in the individual lawsuits. It’s always difficult to justify the certification of a class where the individual cases involve personal injury. Our firm is handling a number of Fosamax cases in several states, and we haven’t asked for class treatment. Frank Woodson, Leigh O’Dell, and Chad Cook are the primary lawyers from the firm involved in the Fosamax litigation. Like all pharmaceutical litigation, the Fosamax cases will be fought hard by Merck and its vast army of lawyers. It’s our belief that the individual Fosamax claims have merit and hopefully we will be able to obtain adequate relief for our clients on an individual basis.
Source: Associated Press
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