Articles Posted in Multidistrict Litigation

CPAP Machine Recalls
Philips Respironics (Philips) is a leading manufacturer of CPAP and BiPAP machines to help individuals treat their sleep apnea. Philips also makes ventilators which are often used in the medical setting. Earlier this summer, they announced a recall of many of these devices due to the potential harm they could cause their users. Let’s take a quick look at the nature of this recall and the resulting litigation.

Why Is There a Recall?

A variety of ventilators, CPAP and BiPAP machines produced by Philips use polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam. The purpose of this material is to reduce the sound and vibration from these devices. However, this foam may break down and injure the user. It’s suspected that high heat and humidity, or using ozone to clean the device, could make this problem worse.

Hoy hablamos del herbicida Paraquat y hay muchas razones para informarse sobre este herbicida: es muy peligroso, muy tóxico y, lamentablemente, los estudios están comenzando a indicar que puede causar alguna enfermedad bastante grave si se expone a en cualquier período de tiempo.

¿Qué es el paraquat?

Paraquat and Parkinson's DiseaseEs un químico tóxico que se usa ampliamente en este país, particularmente en la mitad este de los Estados Unidos, donde hay muchas tierras de cultivo, huertos y áreas agrícolas. Se utiliza como herbicida, un asesino de plantas principalmente para el control de malezas y pastos.

Retired Army Ranger Chet Sechrest and I continue our conversation on the potential for hearing damage in the military, the crucial need for proper hearing protection, and 3M Earplugs:

image-300x200Clay: So Chet as a medic you would supervise and train soldiers in the proper use of hearing protection? But you also said the Army beat into your heads the importance of protecting your hearing in whatever you were doing in the field?

Chet: Absolutely. In fact, for a long time, they had the annual hearing exam requirement. And it was like a pre-deployment requirement, you couldn’t deploy unless you had your hearing exam for that year. So the command was interested in tracking, hearing issues, to make sure that you know, not everybody’s going to go deaf. Does that make sense?

3M Earplugs and Hearing LossYou likely know there is massive litigation emerging around 3M Company’s Combat Arms, dual-sided earplugs. These 3M Earplugs were sold to the U.S. government and distributed to members of the military in a huge contract over a period of 12 or 13 years. And many lawsuits have been filed recently that allege that these 3M Earplugs were defective, and they left thousands and thousands of soldiers with permanent hearing loss or tinnitus. It’s called noise-induced hearing damage. So my friend Chet Sechrest will talk about the unique ways that soldiers are exposed to loud noises. And it’s not always what you think; it’s not simply shooting a rifle or getting trained and the use of weapons or rifles, but also it could be serving as a mechanic for heavy engines, or being exposed to loud tanks or other industrial equipment. And as Chet points out, it could also simply be taking rides on very loud helicopters over and over again without the proper hearing protection. But that’s enough of an introduction. Let’s get to my Q&A with Chet Sechrest.

Clay: Chet was an Army Ranger and a member of Special Forces. He pulled three tours of duty in Iraq. So Chet, how long did you serve in the military?

Chet: I served a total of 27 years and nine months in the military.

iStock-518657244-300x286After news broke that Zantac (the brand name for ranitidine) was linked to cancer, a large wave of lawsuits started making their way into state and federal courts. Many of these cases have been consolidated into the Zantac multi-district litigation, or MDL 2924.

The Zantac MDL is still in the early stages of litigation, but the court just handed down two major decisions that could dramatically undermine a majority of the cases and claims.

We’ll go over these two decisions, but before we do, we need to provide a little context. We’ll start with outlining the defendants and claims in the Zantac MDL, then discuss a legal concept called “preemption.”

Firefighter using AFFF foamFirefighters have a host of tools available to them to fight fires. Some of these are simple, like high-pressure water. Others are more state-of-the-art, like forward-looking infrared handheld cameras and aerial drones. One of the special tools in a firefighter’s arsenal is aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF. This “fire foam” has served as a highly effective fire suppressant for about half a century. Unfortunately, exposure to this substance has been linked to serious health problems, including cancer.

Let’s take a closer look at AFFF, its relationship to cancer and what it means for those who might have been exposed.

What Is AFFF?

Patient's medical records and personal injury cases
Health care is an industry that, for the most part, is pretty quick to make the most of new technology. One such area is medical records.

With the increased capabilities and reduced costs of computers, networks and electronic storage, electronic health records (EHR) are primed to take full advantage of what information technology has to offer the medical field. These advantages can include better cost efficiency and improved patient care.

That’s one reason why Congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). This law set out to promote the use and adoption of EHR and medical information technology.

Zantac and generic ranitidine
Generic drugs are a big deal in the United States. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 90% of prescription medications are filled with a generic drug. One of the reasons so many people take generic medications is the cost savings. From 2007 to 2016, generic medications saved $1.67 trillion. A generic version of Zantac has been sold since 1997.

But how is a generic drug different from a brand-name drug? Does this difference matter in the Zantac litigation? If so, where does innovator liability come in? I’ll address these questions in the following blog post. But first, a brief update into the Zantac litigation.

Current Status of Zantac Litigation

iStock-518657244-300x286In Part 2 of this series we looked at the development of ranitidine (brand name Zantac), its rise as a hugely profitable heartburn drug, and the discovery that the carcinogen NDMA was found in rantidine, eventually leading to its recall and removal from the market. In this Part 3 I discuss how ranitidine can evolve into the cancer-causing chemical NDMA.

Nanitidine Can Form NDMA in the Stomach

When ranitidine enters the stomach, it can interact with “nitrites.” Nitrites are chemicals often found in spicy or salty foods. Food producers add nitrites to certain foods to prolong shelf life. All the way back in 1981, Dr. Silvio de Flora published a study showing that when ranitidine is introduced to nitrites it can lead to “toxic effects.” Dr. de Flora cautioned that if people take ranitidine, they should eat foods low in nitrites and avoid ranitidine near meal times.

Zantac Master Complaint
In Part 1 I discussed the concept of the Master Complaint in product liability multi-district litigation, and we also set the table with the plaintiffs and the many defendant-companies involved in the Zantac litigation. Now let’s keep grinding through the Zantac Master Complaint. The story of Zantac, the presence of the carcinogen NDMA, and the links to cancer can be found in the Factual Allegations, beginning on page 39 of the Master Complaint. (Note that I use the brand-name Zantac and its actual name ranitidine mostly interchangeably in this post.)

These are the key elements of the story:

Inventing and Selling Ranitidine

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