A blockbuster CBS News/60 Minutes and Washington Post investigation reveals that after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) cracked down on big pharmaceutical distributors who were knowingly pumping millions of addictive opioid drugs into the black market in cities and towns across the country, the U.S. Congress passed a law to block DEA from freezing such highly suspicious drug shipments to keep them from getting to the streets.
Diane Schwenke, Economics, Equal rights, Grand Junction Chamber, Health care, Human rights, Insurance, Pharmaceutical
G.J. Chamber Opposes Patient Choice in Pharmacies
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The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in their Monday, April 11 ad in the Daily Sentinel, announced that it OPPOSES Colorado House Bill HB 16-1361, the “Patient Choice in Pharmacy” bill, which would prohibit health insurance companies from restricting subscribers’ ability to select a pharmacy or pharmacist of their choice. The bill also prohibits insurance companies from imposing extra co-payments, fees or restrictions on subscribers if they choose to use a pharmacy outside the insurance company’s network, as long the pharmacy/pharmacist has a valid CO license and meets some other criteria.
The G.J Chamber opposes citizens’ ability to freely choose where to shop for medications. Without this bill, smaller locally-owned pharmacies that are not in an insurance company’s network will lose businesses to bigger chains stores or mail order pharmacies that insurance companies tell subscribers they have to use.
Once again, the Chamber opposes a measure that would help smaller and locally-owned businesses, and that is beneficial to all citizens and working people.
Consumer advocacy, Health, Health care, Legal marijuana, Pharmaceutical, politics, Public health, Safety
Legal Marijuana Linked to Lower Death Rates from Prescription Painkillers
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States that legalize marijuana experience significantly lower death rates from pain medication overdoses, both from prescription painkillers and illicit drugs like heroin, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Authors studied states where medical marijuana laws were fully in effect between 1999 and 2010 and found these states had a 24.8 percent lower average annual death rate from opioid overdoses compared to states without such laws. Authors included all 50 states in the study. The longer the states had their laws in place legalizing medical marijuana, the lower the death rates they experienced from opioid analgesic overdoses.
The use of prescriptions painkillers has increased sharply in the U.S. in recent years. In 2010, doctors prescribed enough painkillers to medicate every American adult every four hours for one month. Prescription drug overdose death rates have more than tripled in the U.S. since 1990. There are now more deaths from prescription pain meds than from cocaine and heroin combined. Every day in the U.S., 100 people die from drug overdoses. Many of these deaths are linked to prescription pain killers.
Marijuana is considered an alternative non-opioid treatment for chronic pain, which is also a major indicator for medical cannabis. The study’s authors conclude that laws making cannabis available may be affecting overdose mortality rates from opioid painkillers.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Center for AIDS research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center.
Advertising, Consumer advocacy, Corporations, Corruption, Ethics, Health, Health care, Human rights, Marketing, Pharmaceutical, Public health, Safety, Women
Botox Victim Wins $18 Million from Allergan after Contracting Botulism Poisoning
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Dr. Sharla Helton, an accomplished obstetrician in Oklahoma City, won $18 million a long-running legal fight against the maker of Botox, after she contracted botulism poisoning as a result of getting injections of Botox Cosmetic 2006.
Botox Cosmetic, which is injected into people’s faces to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, is made from a highly potent neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum toxin is the most acutely lethal toxin known to man, and has been considered for its potential as a biological weapon. Just four hundredths of an ounce of undiluted botulinum toxin is enough to kill one million people by giving them the nerve disease botulism, which causes paralysis. Allergan must dilute their toxin so much that the amounts in its drug Botox cannot be measured in conventional terms. One “unit” of Botox is the amount that will kill one half of a test population of laboratory mice. A typical injection of Botox is 20 times that amount.
Even very slight errors in how and where a doctor injects the drug can potentially cause significant and even lethal health problems.
Consumer advocacy, Education, Health, Marketing, Pharmaceutical, Public health, Safety, Women
Lawsuit Blames Chicago Woman’s Death on Botox
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A woman injected with cosmetic Botox at a skin care center in Chicago in May, 2011 developed symptoms of botulism and died, and her husband is suing the doctor who injected her.
In May, 2011, after receiving injections of Botox, Janet Rosenstern, 55, started suffering progressive generalized muscle weakness. She eventually became unable to hold up her neck. She developed weakness in muscles throughout her body, developed severe anxiety, truncal parasthesias (feelings of prickling, burning or tingling in the skin) dizziness, unsteady gait, muscle spasms and involuntary jerking-type movements in her abdominal wall.
She contacted her doctor immediately after her Botox injections and reported her symptoms, but the doctor was dismissive of her complaints. She went to the emergency room several times as her symptoms worsened.
After suffering with these progressively worsening symptoms for nearly a year, on April 22, 2012, she was found unconscious and died the next day.
Her husband, Klaus Rosenstern, is suing his wife’s doctor, Steven Dayan of the True Skin Care Center in Chicago, seeking damages for negligence, lack of informed consent, medical battery and wrongful death. He charges that Dr. Dayan failed to inform his wife of the known serious, debilitating and deadly potential side effects of being injected with Botox Cosmetic.
Botox is Allergan’s trade name for botulinum toxin, one of the most potent neurotoxins in the world. If it spreads through the body, it can cause death.
Janet Rosenstern was a registered nurse who is described in the lawsuit as a “high functioning” and “articulate” woman.
People who have had serious reactions from injections of Botox, like a woman in British Columbia who ended up paralyzed and in a wheelchair, are struggling to make others aware of the serious risks of being injected with Botox.
Advertising, Consumer advocacy, Corporations, Ethics, Health, Human rights, Marketing, Pharmaceutical, Public health, Women
Stacy London: What Not to Promote
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On July, 8, 2013, Stacy London, star of the TV show What Not To Wear, entered into a partnership with drug maker AbbVie, manufacturer of the anti-psoriasis drug, Humira. Humira is reportedly responsible for 70% of the drug maker’s profits. The promotional campaign is called “Uncover Your Confidence with Stacy London.”
The campaign would be great except for the long list of dire adverse effects and side effects Humira has had on patients who have used it.
Humira works by suppressing your immune system, but a weakened immune system can leave your body’s defenses too weak to protect you from ordinary bacterial infections and a host of other rare deadly diseases. The adverse effects and side effects of Humira have been so bad that the FDA has required a black box warning on the drug telling users they can get “Serious infections and malignancy that may lead to hospitalization or death.” Infections and cancers linked to Humira include tuberculosis, lymphoma, skin cancer, leukemia, Kaposi’s sarcoma (a tumor caused by a herpes virus). Adverse effects of Humira include liver failure, sarcoidosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome (progressive paralysis), stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis and more.
London’s campaign misleads
The campaign featuring London leads people to believe that she recovered from psoriasis by using Humira, but she has written a book in which she states that her psoriasis cleared up after she had a tonsillectomy at age 17. She writes, “No only did the operation clear up my skin, but I haven had an outbreak of psoriasis since.”
The information about what actually cleared up London’s psoriasis is not contained on her “UncoverYourConfidence.com” website, sponsored by AbbVie.
Dr. David Healy, who wrote a book exposing the pharmaceutical industry called “Pharmageddon” (and who runs the website RxIsk.org, which crowd-sources data on drug side effects), wrote an article in August, 2013, “Stacy London, What Not to Take,” which asked London to help psoriasis sufferers by letting them know AbbVie has taken legal action against the European Medicines Agency to try and block access to data on Humira’s side effects (pdf).
Advertising, Consumer advocacy, Corporations, Ethics, Grassroots advocacy, Health, Marketing, Pharmaceutical, Public health, Tobacco, Tobacco documents
The Activism Behind CVS’s Cigarette Announcement
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CVS Drugstores announced this week that they are finally acting on information the rest of us have known for fifty years: they’re going to stop selling cigarettes because they are addictive and deadly. On February 5, 2014 CVS announced that it would end cigarette sales at its 7,600 stores nationwide by October 1. What CVS didn’t mention was the grassroots efforts behind this move, including the relentless driving force of a human being, Dr. Terence A. Gerace, who carried out an almost four year-long, single-focus, one-man campaign to push CVS to stop selling cigarettes. Dr. Gerace started his campaign in earnest on May 20, 2010. Over the years it has included a web site containing a log and description of every single one of the days he personally stood protesting in front of a busy CVS store in a prominent part of Washington, D.C., a “CVS Sells Poison” Facebook page, a “CVS Sells Poison” YouTube song and video, almost 170 days of personal protest in all kinds of weather at the Washington, D.C. store and some imaginative, hand-made iterations of what Terry though CVS ads could look like if the chain finally went cigarette-free. To his credit, though, Dr. Gerace has turned down offers of publicity for himself now that CVS has finally agreed to stop selling cigarettes, saying the focus should be on the change, and for that he deserves a gold medal.
Some communities understand that it is wrong for pharmacies, which market themselves as interested in peoples’ health, to sell cigarettes. A few enlightened U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Richmond, California, Boston and about 80 other cities in Massachusetts now have ordinances banning pharmacies from selling cigarettes. Canada prohibits pharmacies from selling cigarettes and so does the United Kingdom. In Europe, pharmacies do not sell cigarettes.
For decades the tobacco industry has protected the big national chain drug stores against lawsuits brought by people who were sickened by cigarettes bought at their stores through contracts that indemnify the stores against such legal action. After all, the pharmacies know they are selling a deadly product but keep doing it, to the cigarette makers’ great financial advantage. CVS had many such protective contracts with cigarette companies. To see the contracts tobacco companies held with any drug chain, just go to the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library online and enter the search term “indemnify and hold harmless” along with the name of any major drug store chain you like to shop at, like Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc. They’re all there, demonstrating that these stores know they are selling a deadly product and choose to do it anyway.
Now that CVS has decided to stop selling cigarettes, the only question left in people’s minds is no longer which national chain drug store will be the first to stop selling cigarettes. It’s which one will be the last.
Advertising, Consumer advocacy, Corruption, Health, Marketing, Safety
Johnson & Johnson Fined $1.2 Billion for Illegal Drug Marketing
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The state of Arkansas has ordered Johnson & Johnson and one of its subsidiaries, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, to pay $1.2 billion in fines for deceptively marketing the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, approved to treat conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The companies were accused of failing to provide adequate warning about potential side effects of the drug, which include diabetes, weight gain, neurological problems and increased risk of strokes and death in elderly patients with dementia. Fletch Trammell, a lawyer in the case who had used Risperdal, said that J&J hid studies that showed Risperdal caused diabetes at a higher rate than a competing drug. The court also found nearly 240,000 instances in which the companies violated the state laws against Medicaid fraud, with each count representing one prescription for Risperdal written to a state Medicaid patient over a 3 1/2 year period. The fine for the Medicaid fraud portion of the case, at $5,000 per prescription, was the state’s minimum. A 12 person jury deliberated for three hours before finding against J&J. Arkansas is just one of several states suing over Risperdal. South Carolina and Texas have already reached settlements with J&J in their lawsuits. J&J plans to appeal the Arkansas ruling, claiming it did not break the law and that the package insert that comes with the medication was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Main source: New York Times, April 11, 2012