Articles Posted in Other Product Cases

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MRI with gadolinium-based contrast agentI’ve been representing people injured by defective medical devices and harm drugs for many years. Because I study these types of products on a daily basis, I have become leery about putting anything inside my body, whether it is an artificial joint like a hip or knee, or a prescription medication. As I often tell people–mostly joking but not completely–these days I am uncomfortable taking a baby aspirin.

Of course that’s not rational. Please hear me: there are important, helpful drugs and medical devices which improve lives, extend lives, and save lives. Paranoia is not your friend when you are facing a serious health issue. That said, it is always prudent to double check anything put into your body when a medical procedure is performed. Read about the product, get a second or third opinion.

In the past few years studies have identified troubling health problems in patients following the administration of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) used during MRIs. Some people have gotten debilitating symptoms from these GBCAs. Let’s take a look:

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Surgeon placing hernia mesh in the inguinal region during open hernia repair.
Clients are all different. Some call me with an injury caused by a medical device or drug and say, essentially, “figure it out.” I have no problem with a client taking this position. Others keep detailed notes and meticulous records and send me a package of documents that can be several inches thick. I never expect a client to do this initial “leg work,” but it can often jump start a case against the device or drug manufacturer. If you are inclined to be more involved in the process, at least early on, I have noted some important tasks below you can accomplish to launch your hernia mesh case.

Let’s start with two obvious assumptions: (1) you had hernia mesh implanted in your body in the past, and (2) you have suffered injury because of the hernia mesh. Where do you go from there?

Identify Your Product

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Type 2 Diabetes and OnglyzaWith the rise of Type 2 diabetes in the United States, drug makers have attempted to meet the demand for treatments to lower blood sugar levels in patients. A variety of drugs such as saxagliptin, alogliptin, linagliptin, sitagliptin, exenatide and liraglutide were developed to help patients treat their Type 2 diabetes. Several of these drugs have resulted in unexpected problems. One specific drug in particular is saxagliptin, which goes by the trade name “Onglyza.”

What Is Onglyza?

Onglyza was co-developed by Bristol-Meyers Squibb and AstraZeneca and is a DPP-4 inhibitor. It works by increasing the levels of incretin (a type of hormone) in the body. Incretins lower blood glucose levels by reducing the amount of sugar the liver makes and increasing the amount of insulin released by the pancreas.

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SGLT2 Inhibitor Diabetes Drugs
Originally touted as a wonder drug, a new class of medications based on SGLT2 inhibitors promised to help those suffering from Type 2 diabetes by increasing their ability to lower and control their blood sugar, while also lowering body weight and blood pressure. Pharmaceutical companies were hoping that these new products could potentially become blockbuster drugs. Invokana and Farxiga are two examples of SGLT2 inhibitors.

But just a few years after the release of these drugs in the United States, the drug companies started facing stiff competition among themselves. Additionally, the public learned of the serious risks of taking SGLT2 inhibitors. The purpose of this blog post is to provide a quick overview of SGLT2 inhibitor drugs and the status of their litigation.

What Is a SGLT2 Inhibitor?

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Physiomesh Hernia Mesh
Hernia mesh is causing problems. People who have been implanted with hernia mesh have suffered adhesions (scar tissue that sticks together), inflammation, pain, allergic reactions, internal bleeding, infections, and many other injuries.

One of the hernia mesh products sold for years, Ethicon’s Physiomesh, has caused many of these health problems in patients. In revision or removal surgeries, the Physiomesh has been discovered to have shrunk, folded, or curled. Surgeons have found scar tissue surrounding the mesh. This scar tissue can cause severe pain and discomfort. In many cases, by the time the mesh is removed, the damage has been done and long-term problems remain.

What Is Hernia Mesh?

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Female contraception is common these days, with many medications, medical devices and methods available. One popular birth control method is the intrauterine device, or IUD.

There are many companies making different types of IUDs that work in different ways. Some use copper as the primary means of contraception while others use hormones. One of the most popular hormonal IUDs available goes by the brand name Mirena.

How Does the Mirena IUD Work?

Mirena is a hormonal IUD that is inserted into a woman’s uterus. Once inserted, the IUD continuously releases a small amount of the hormone levonorgesterel. The Mirena IUD is extremely effective and works primarily by preventing fertilization from occurring, rather than preventing implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterus.

Another advantage of the Mirena IUD is that it works for a long period of time (three to five years) without any intervention by the woman. And when the effective time period of Mirena passes or the woman decides she wants to try to get pregnant, the Mirena IUD can be removed and fertility restored. Because of these advantages, many women have chosen Mirena as their preferred form of birth control.

What’s Wrong with the Mirena IUD?

Woman with Mirena IUD Suffering from Intracranial HypertensionDespite its effectiveness as a contraceptive and its popularity, the Mirena IUD has caused some women to suffer from a variety of serious conditions, including the dangerous buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. This fluid buildup then causes an increase in intracranial pressure and can lead to severe headaches, ringing in the ears, nausea, blurred vision, neck pain, and blindness due to the swelling of the optic nerve.

Many women experience progressively worsening vision as the optic nerve swelling increases. Most of these symptoms are similar to those people suffering from a brain tumor. There are several names to describe this condition, including Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC) and Intracranial Hypertension (IH).

Depending on the woman, the effects of PTC or IH can sometimes be reversed, but it often results in permanent damage to a woman’s vision. Even if the effects can be reversed, it usually takes years of maintaining normal intracranial pressure in the brain. As a result of these problems, many lawsuits against Bayer, the maker of Mirena, have recently emerged.

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Do you long for the days when you could move your legs and hips with complete freedom of motion in total silence, without pain? If the answer is “yes,” there’s a good chance you are the recipient of a hip replacement implant – and you wouldn’t be alone. Over the past few decades, millions of individuals have received hip replacement surgeries, many of which have been successful. But in recent years, there have been a large number of hip replacement recipients who have suffered problems with their hip implants, especially those receiving metal-on-metal hip replacements.

Lawsuits have been filed, resulting in large, eye-catching verdicts and settlements for plaintiffs. One recent settlement applies to approximately 1,300 lawsuits involving hip implant products made by Wright Medical Technology (“Wright”).

Wright Hip Background

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The Bair Hugger forced-air warming blanket originally seemed like a great idea. Developed by an anesthesiologist, Dr. Scott Augustine, Bair Hugger was a forced-air warming blanket that is draped across a patient during and after surgery. The theory is that warm air against the body stimulates faster recovery and reduces bleeding. I believe the results have shown that Bair Hugger has sped recoveries for patients. Unfortunately, patients also began to suffer from infections. Some of these infections have been significant and caused serious injury in patients.

Surgery With Bair Hugger Warming BlanketIn fact, Dr. Augustine has reversed field on his invention and now believes it should no longer be used during and after surgeries. He believes it is particularly dangerous for patients receiving medical device implants like artificial hips and knees, according to an article in The New York Times. The risk of infection is allegedly caused by the forced-air within the blanket which can spread bacteria often found in hospitals. Consumer advocates allege that the forced air pushes bacteria and other contaminants into open wounds of patients during and after surgery, which can increase risk of infections. Some individuals have suffered from very serious or even life-threatening infections. The scientific theory suggests that in artificial joint surgeries the immune system is not triggered as readily, such that bacteria introduced into the body is much more dangerous to the patient than under normal conditions. As a result, the bacteria in the patient’s body can cause much more damage and be life-threatening. In some cases, patients have had to undergo revision surgeries at the site of the artificial joint implantation; in rare cases, amputation was necessary because of the severe infection.

However, as I discuss below, Arizant Healthcare, Inc., the manufacturer of the Bair Hugger blanket, disputes that any increased risk of infection occurs with Bair Hugger. The medical device is still on the market and is still used in many surgeries.

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California Product Liability LawsuitsCalifornia is a beautiful, diverse state. It has everything from wide, sandy beaches to snow-capped mountains, deserts, thick forests, wide open spaces and massive cities. It also has laws and a court system that’s seen as friendly to those injured by prescription medications. And after a recent court decision, more people in other states may be heading there to try their  product liability cases.

The California Supreme Court issued a decision in August which may encourage people harmed by prescription medications and medical devices from all over the country to file legal actions in the state. At issue is whether the state’s court system has jurisdiction over legal claims by people who’ve never been in California. In cases involving the drug Plavix, the answer was yes.

The eight lawsuits in question have 86 California residents and 592 people from 33 other states as plaintiffs. The defendant, Bristol-Myers Squibb, sought the dismissal of the claims by the 592 non-Californian plaintiffs.

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Judge Stripping Punitive Damages From Jury Verdict

A lawsuit can be a minefield. For one, it can go on for years. And in that time opposing counsel can (and will) challenge a person’s lawsuit in large and small ways. By large I mean bringing “dispositive motions,” which are motions that “dispose” of a case, like a motion to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment.  These motions are defensive attempts to kick a lawsuit out of court before it reaches a jury. By small I mean opposing counsel may refuse to produce certain documents or information in the “discovery” process, or may simply use motions or other tools to slow down and delay the plaintiff’s opportunity to have her case reach a jury.

But the fight is not over when the jury reaches a verdict in a product liability case. If a plaintiff wins her lawsuit, the defense will typically file “post-trial motions,” and after those motions are heard will likely appeal to a higher court. Merely getting a good jury verdict is by no means the end of the story.

Two weeks ago, a federal judge in Georgia stepped in after a jury verdict and stripped almost nine million dollars of punitive damages from the amount of money the jury awarded to the injured plaintiff.

But I need to back up.

In Re: Wright Medical Technology Inc. Conserve Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2329); Christiansen, No. 13-00297 (N.D. Ga.)

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