Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Season's Greetings 2006

Posting will be very light the rest of the month. The pic above is from one of my favorite towns out west, Crested Butte.

While you work away these next few days, check out streaming music from Mardi Gras Radio.

2007 Resolutions

I know that many people do not make them or keep them. I do. If you are a person who at least tries to come up with a list, I've stumbled across a few posted on blogs out there.

Matt Homan has a number of posts regarding resolutions.

A few around my office are simple in idea but may prove difficult in practice: Move to PDF images of all frequently reviewed documents in a client's file. Accident Reports, for example. In a client directory that should be one of the 'must haves' on a server.

I also resolve to use an online medical records acquisition like Mediconnect on a test basis. One attorney in town swears by it.

More later

Monday, December 18, 2006

Zyprexa: Did Drugmaker Hide Risks?

The NYT reports that drugmaker Eli Lilly may have tried to play down the health risks of schizophrenia drug Zyprexa.

The NYT referred to hundreds of internal documents and e-mail messages circulated by employee. The NYT article says that Lilly executives allegedly withheld important information from doctors about Zyprexa's links to obesity and elevated blood sugar, risk factors for diabetes.

The drug company's own published data (according to the Times) showed that nearly thirty percent of patients taking Zyprexa gain more than twenty pounds or more after a year on the drug. Some gained more than 100 pounds.

The documents show Lilly's concern that Zyprexa sales would suffer if the company
was more candid about the drug's risk of causing unmanageable weight gain or diabetes. As expected the company disputes the claims. Lilly through reps said that there is no scientific evidence establishing that Zyprexa causes diabetes.

In an internal document, Lilly employees discussed that the drug was associated with weight gain and possible hyperglycemia, and this would be a threat to the long-term success of the drug. The date of the document was 1999.

The documents were apparently given to the NYT by James Gottstein, a lawyer representing mentally ill patients who is suing the state of Alaska over its efforts to force patients to take psychiatric medicines against their will.

Source - NYT.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

CLE Conferences

This idea stolen from Idea Surplus Disorder Blog:

Know Your Questions. Seek Your Answers. Never attend a conference without at least three questions you want answered. Never leave until they have been.

I try to have a defined set of areas covered. My biggest gripe when it comes to attorney conferences? I go to hear one person in particular and when I turn to that person's materials ... nothing. When that person speaks, it's half ad libbed and mostly war stories. Two speakers were guilty of this at a recent conference.

The best set of materials at a conference I attended came typed, double spaced, and full of legal citations. The author? An attorney who has been practicing law for less than five years.

Drug Coated Stents: Risk or No?

Drug-coated stents that prop open the arteries of about 3 million people in the U.S. don't increase the risk of heart attack or death when used as labeled but may put patients at risk for blood clots, says the FDA.

In an earth shaking development, Johnson & Johnson - a stent maker - said there is no significant difference in clotting, heart attack or death rates between its stent, the Cypher, and bare metal versions.

You can read more here.

Ketek (Antibiotic): Facing the Music before the FDA

The FDA first approved Ketek in April 2004 for the treatment of pneumonia, sinusitis and bronchitis. Not long after that, the Public Citizen Health Research Group, added the antibiotic to its list of "do not use" drugs. Public Citizen cited reports of liver toxicity, serious vision problems and the possibility of heart rhythm disturbances.

Later this week (Thursday and Friday) the FDA convenes a joint meeting of its Anti-Infective Drugs and its Drug Safety and Risk Management advisory committees to discuss what it calls Ketek's overall benefit-to-risk considerations. See FDA information here.

I think that the FDA will order the drug maker to strenghthen its warnings regarding the drug.

Canada has issued a warning regarding this drug:

Health Canada is advising Canadians about a possible link between use of the antibiotic Ketek and potentially serious liver problems.

There have been international reports of patients using Ketek who experienced liver failure requiring transplant or resulting in death, although no such cases have been reported in Canada. Ketek (the brand name for telithromycin), which has been marketed in Canada since May 2003, is indicated for the treatment of pneumonia, throat and sinus infections and chronic bronchitis, as well as serious or multi-drug resistant infections.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Buy This CD - New Orleans Christmas

I love New Orleans. This year, you can buy a CD with great Christmas music recorded by Big Easy musicians, and a portion of the proceeds go to the Habitat for Humanity Musicians' Village in that city.

New Orleans Christmas, which you can find on Amazon.

You can hear snippets online here.

Much better than those retreads you hear on the radio or Sirius, you will find superb Christmas tunes. Papa Don Vappie, The Dukes of Dixieland, Banu Gibson, and Topsy Chapman provide the auditory feast.

A comment on the web somewhere is apt: "The music is upbeat and will put a smile on the face of the most jaded Scrooge in the group."

Buy it!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Iraq Study Group: Comprised of Lawyers

Interesting to read the background of the esteemed members of this Iraq Study Group. 8 of the 10 are attorneys. Co Chairs are attorneys.

You can read the text of the press conference here.

"Lawyers" in general are an easy target of politicians, talking heads, and the populace. Until you need one.

Fen Phen News: PPH Suits Filed

In Philly, suits were filed this week. Renee Tedesco is one plaintiff. She was diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension in April of 2007, eight years after she stopped taking Fen Phen. Last month, Tedesco underwent a nine-hour double lung transplant.

Tedesco's lawyer is Alex H. MacDonald. He said he expects Wyeth to argue that fen-phen would not cause severe complications to surface years after the women stopped taking the pills.

Alex MacDonald's first PPH case was extensively detailed in a book by Alicia Mundy title, Dispensing with the Truth, a compelling read regarding the battle over fen phen. I am pretty certain that a read of it will make you angry.

Alex told me that Diane Keaton had purchased the rights to that book, but to date the film adaptation has not gone into production. I had to laugh when he said that he feared the movie the most, because he would point to the screen and say to his kids, "You see that gal up there, that's me!"

For more on the lawsuits, go here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Trasylol Information

Angel Reyes has an office in Dallas, Texas, and he recently ran a Trasylol ad.

Bayer has informed the FDA that it had carried out an additional safety study of Trasylol. The preliminary findings from this new observational study of patients from a hospital database reported that use of Trasylol might increase the chance for death, serious kidney damage, congestive heart failure and strokes.

While the FDA conducts its assessment of this new safety study, it is recommended that physicians consider limiting Trasylol use to those situations where the clinical benefit of reduced blood loss is essential to medical management and outweighs the potential risks. Doctors should carefully observe patients for the occurrence of toxicity, particularly to the kidneys, heart, or brain.

Trasylol (Generic: Aprotinin), Bayer's injectable drug used to prevent excessive blood loss during heart surgery, doubles the risk of kidney failure and stroke and increases the risk of heart failure or heart attack by 55%. It is also linked with encephalopathy (degenerative brain diseases). Researchers announced their findings on January 25, 2006 and the study results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study examined 4,374 heart bypass surgery patients at hospitals around the world.

You can see it below:

Southern Trial Lawyers Yearly Mtg: NOLA 2/15-17

The STLA meets again in New Orleans, and let me tell you it will be a good time. Just about 60 days away (almost), and yours truly speaks this year. Topic is Working with the Competition.

It's a pretty fun seminar, informative as well. The muckety mucks have decided that 15 minute presentations are the way to go, and I agree. Also, two hours for lunch! You can linger over at the Palace Cafe on Canal. I have one drink at lunch once a year - at the Palace Cafe during the STLA seminar.

You can find more about it by going here:

Google Docs/Spreadsheets

Definitely worth a look. You can cut and past documents and spreadsheets into Google Docs, and edit on the fly. Free!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

FDA: Gov't Researcher Faces Charges For Taking $$$ from

A U.S. scientist who has spent time researching Alzheimer's was charged with conflict of interest for accepting $285,000 from drug maker Pfizer Inc. He is being criminally charged.

Pearson Sunderland is the chief of the geriatric psychology branch at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). He faces up to a year in prison and a fine of $100,000 if convicted, prosecutor Rod Rosenstein announced.

Prosecutors said Sunderland, 55, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, accepted the $285,000 in consulting fees and travel expenses from Pfizer without getting required approval from NIH or disclosing the fees to the agency.

Is he the only one? Does any rational person think the FDA is truly independent? That companies do not wield much influence within the walls of the FDA buildings?

Source here.

Southern Football: Video from Gators-Arky Game

Southern Football is really something you need to see live and in person once in your life. As the Gators get ready to play in the National Championship game on 1/8/07, the fun from this past weekend's SEC Championship Game still rings in my ears.

As Florida was in the locker room at halftime of that game, the crowd heard the USC-UCLA score (UCLA pulled the upset). Below is a scene from a men's bathroom - a bathroom with a TV showing the feed of the USC-UCLA game. I was watching the game while sitting in the stands in Atlanta. I borrowed a pair of binoculars and spied the game in a suite.

So here you go (only 27 seconds). Are college football fans in the south nuts? The Gators won of course in a heart pounding way:

I hope some of those guys washed their hands before high fiving others

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Paxil News - Pregnant Women Warned About Drug's Side Effects

Ostetricians are recommending that women avoid the antidepressant Paxil if they are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, due to a potential heightened risk for birth defects.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also cautioned that treatment with other antidepressants should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

ACOG's Committee on Obstetric Practice "recommends that treatment with all SSRIs [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors] or selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or both during pregnancy be individualized and paroxetine [Paxil] use among pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant be avoided, if possible," read the statement, which is in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

In 2005 the FDA issued a warning about possible birth defects associated with Paxil when the drug is taken during the first trimester of pregnancy. In December of 2005, the FDA told GlaxoSmithKline to reclassify the drug from a Category C to D (a stronger warning) for pregnant women. Category D means studies in pregnant women have demonstrated a risk to the fetus.

SSRIs, the category of antidepressants which includes Paxil as well as Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft, may cause newborns to have withdrawal symptoms.

The FDA site has more, here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Katrina II: Judge Slams Bush Admin, Orders Resumption of Payments

The Bush administration must resume housing payments for thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon's ripped the Federal Emergency Management Agency for illegally cutting housing funding and subjecting storm victims to a convoluted application process he called "Kafkaesque."

In the Washington case, Leon said FEMA mishandled the transition from a short-term housing program to a longer-term program this spring and summer.

Until FEMA explains itself and allows victims to appeal, Leon said the government must keep making housing payments.

"It is unfortunate, if not incredible, that FEMA and its counsel could not devise a sufficient notice system to spare these beleaguered evacuees the added burden of federal litigation to vindicate their constitutional rights," Leon wrote in his ruling.

You can find the Memorandum Opinion here.

Katrina News: USDCT Judge Rules Against Insurers

A U.S. federal judge denied Motions to Dismiss claims based on the water damage caused by a canal levee breach. After reading the 85 page opinion, news reports appear to have incorrectly concluded that the Judge "ruled that insurance companies should pay for widespread water damage that ensued in the wake of Katrina."

Judge Stanwood Duval's ruling does put insurers at risk to pay more than the $41 billion they have already paid to storm victims.

Judge Duval's decision centered on the distinction between flooding caused by high winds and heavy rains and flooding caused by human error. Much of the destruction in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 was a result of levee failures.

He said the language in the insurance policies on flood coverage was ambiguous because it did not "clearly exclude man-made" flood disasters. Because the insurers had provided the wording for the policies, he said he felt "constrained to interpret it against the insurers." Most of the arguments set forth by the Plaintiffs suggest that 'water intrusion' is different than flooding. The court did an exemplary job of wading through the many definitions of the term "flood," including one that refers to rising and overflowing as opposed to exiting through a breach.

For more go here.

The 85 page PDF ruling can be found here.

The E.D. of LA Court page can be found here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Idiot Congressman Calls Miami A "3rd World Country"

Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo a so called "leader" of the anti-illegal immigration faction in the U.S. House, spent a recent weekend at The Breakers in Palm Beach. In case you are not familiar with the Breakers, it is perhaps one of the finest old line AAA Five Diamond Hotels in the United States. It is truly a magnificent palatial resort:

Of course, why a politician whose salary is paid for by taxpaying folks like me is staying at a Resort like that is the subject of another blog entry BUT he had this to say about Miami:

Miami, he told a conservative online news site, ``has become a Third World country.'' Source.

''Look at what has happened to Miami,'' the WorldNetDaily quotes Tancredo as saying in an interview. ``It has become a Third World country. You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you're in the United States of America. You would certainly say you're in a Third World country.''

There is no objective definition of Third World or "Third World country" but the use of the term remains common. The term Third World is also disliked as it may imply the false notion that those countries are not a part of the global economic system, according to Wiki.

Tancredo is too dumb to realize that the French demographer Alfred Sauvy coined the expression ("tiers monde" in French) in 1952 by analogy with the "third estate," the commoners of France before and during the French Revolution-as opposed to priests and nobles, comprising the first and second estates respectively. Like the third estate, wrote Sauvy, the third world is nothing, and it "wants to be something." The term therefore implies that the third world is exploited, marked by poverty and high birth rates. The third estate is marked by shantytowns with pockets of rich elite.

The remarks drew an instant rebuke from Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who called Tancredo ''flat out wrong'' and extended an invitation for him to come and judge the city for himself.

Tancredo didn't visit Miami on his trip. Nice of him to trash the city without visiting it, eh?

Nevermind that Miami is home to many thousands of Cubans who arrived in the United States legally. Or that the GOP has a near stranglehold on Cuban votes and most hispanic voters there. Or that Miami is no different than NYC in the 40s and 50s, with enclaves like Little Italy. Tom should know about NYC, since he is the grandson of Italian immigrants who, like Cubans, settled in ethnic enclaves across the United States.

Make no mistake: Trancedo is a rascist.He has received thousands of dollars from individuals linked to white supremacy (Link). He has insulted generations of Hisnapic immigrants who are the stalwarts of the Miami economy. I will take a wild guess that he has never been to Marrakech or Kabul. Open sewers, rampant and unchecked disease.

I was raised in South Florida. While certainly there are many hispanics, you are just as likely to hear German, Italian, and French at shops and on the beach. I challenge him to take a trip to the Miami area and see where the conditions are rough. You know what you will find? Poor whites. Members of many minorities living day to day. But, had he done his research, he would know that. He'd know that the area around the Orange Bowl - a dump of a stadium - is in poor shape, and is according to several census sites, majority white.

That's not enough for this POS ... Tommy goes on to say: "While a recent documentary comparison of Miami-Dade County to Baghdad was a bit of an overstatement no one can argue that it is not one of America's most dangerous areas." Well Tom, not quite ... according to this site, Safest and Most Dangerous U.S. Cities, 2005. D.C. - Tom's 2nd hometown - is there. Miami is not in the Top 25, but Baltimore is. Tom, your rascist notions are wrong. This guy votes on balancing a budget?

But hey, Tommy knows that a Third World Country like Miami has hosted a Super Bowl, has the reigning NBA Champs, hosts international banking, and has one of the USA's busiest ports. Or that those living below the poverty line in Miami-Dade total 18% compared to 15% in Denver.

Tommy boy, if you want to run for President you just crapped on a big segment of your voters. At the conservative seminar/vaction you attended apparently there was no discussion of hispanics deserting the GOP in droves this past election because of spliiter issues like immigration. Your hate rhetoric won't fly - Comprende?

New Blog: Science and Technical Evidence & News

Worth a look: Science Evidence.

According to the site:

Science Evidence is devoted to the latest news in scientific evidence in United States courts and news relevant to litigation, including case reports and scientific research articles that bear on legal issues.

Cliff Hutchinson is an engineer, registered patent attorney, and trial lawyer, with over 26 years experience in litigation in state and federal courts and before arbitral tribunals. His practice focuses on complex commercial litigation involving technical issues, such as intellectual property disputes, toxic torts, oil and gas, and contract disputes in other technology industries. He has litigated in trial courts in numerous states and has appeared before state appellate courts and before federal circuit courts in the First and Fifth Circuits and the United States Supreme Court.

FDA Issues Methadone Warning

People treating with methadone have died or suffered life-threatening side effects according to the FDA.

Overdoses of the increasingly popular narcotic can cause slow or shallow breathing and dangerous changes in heartbeat that patients might not feel.

In 2003, methadone was listed as a cause of 2,452 unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States, up from 623 in 1999, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

According to most reports, prescribing methadone is complex. Methadone should only be prescribed for patients with moderate to severe pain when their pain is not improved with other non-narcotic pain relievers.

For more go here. You can find the FDA Advisory here.

Merck's Arcoxia (Cox 2 ) Facing Hurdles

Merck has reported that Arcoxia - a not yet approved drug - had the same cardiovascular risks as diclofenac according to studies involving more than 30,000 arthritis patients.

Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, the same class that includes naproxen and ibuprofen.

The fuss over Arcoxia started months ago, before Merck released the results of the study known as MEDAL. Critics hammered Merck, suggesting that the company should not have used diclofenac in the studay as it may have a higher cardiovascular risk than naproxen.

You can read more by going here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanks - A Georgia Lawyer Blog's #1 Most Popular

This week, at least. Just goes to show if you look long enough, somewhere a law blog search engine may put your blog at the top.

Justia's Blawg Search is making a run to become the de facto search engine for law blogs, and this week in the section for Injury and Accident Law Blawgs somehow this one made it to the top. At least for now, and this week. That, and $5 will buy you a Venti-Over-The-Top Coffee at a certain coffee house.

I like the ease of use of the site as well as the new format over at Blawg.

Georgia's Former Governor Launches Consumer Site

Pretty impressive. Governor Roy Barnes of Georgia who also happens to be a Plaintiff's lawyer has a new website,

The site went online last week, and more importantly garnered news that many can only hope for, in that the Atlanta Journal Constitution ran a page one Metro section story on it.

According to the report, the site provides information on everything from credit cards and auto accidents to predatory lending and financing a car. The paper also noted that you can click on the "Ask Roy" link to go directly to Barnes' e-mail address.

You can't buy advertising like that. It's a site worth a look.

Actiq (Cancer Drug): Rampant Off Label Use?

According to the CT A.G.'s Office, Cephalon may have been a little too aggressive in trying to expand sales of Actiq. Actiq is a lollipop-administered drug approved only to treat cancer pain.

According to reports, doctors ranging from neurologists to anesthesiologists have prescribed the drug for a range of pain conditions including migraines.

What is notable is this comment in an article found online: The use of Actiq for cancer patients may be less than 20 percent of total sales, and many of the sales are based on prescriptions from anesthesiologists, rehabilitation specialists and others. Source here.

Vioxx Class Action Cert. Denied: The Right Decision

The federal judge overseeing the lawsuits filed against Merck & Co. over Vioxx
has ruled that the cases cannot be compiled into a class-action suit.

Judge Fallon ruled the cases had unique injuries and many different ingestion periods and should not be combined.

For more go here.

It's the right decision. With so many different types of claimed injuries, together with different dosages and length of ingestion, this should come as no surprise to anyone other than the attorneys that sought class action status.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A New Law Blog Search Engine

Justia has up and running a "Blawg Search" site which you can find here.

There are 844 Blawgs in 45 categories according to the site, with more being added each day. Eyeing the catergoies it looks like Intellectual Property Law has the most blogs within it(80), with Law Professors (71) and Tech (59) 2nd and 3rd. lists nearly 1500.

To pick a nit, it looks like there is are separate categories for "Carolina" and "South" which probably means South Carolina, which probably means Dave Swanner's site. Alas, his site is not in the section titled "Injury and Accident Law" where it should be. Let's see how long it takes to fix that.

EPO -The Scourge of Cycling- Linked to Heart Risks?

An anti-anemia drug used by chronic kidney disease sufferers may pose health problems accordnig to a recent study. You can find the abstract of the study in the NEJM.

Scientists found aggressive efforts to boost red blood cell production with erythropoietin (EPO) may increase the risk of heart failure in one study and could increase the need for dialysis according to another study.

EPO is sold under the names Eprex, NeoRecormon, and Aranesp. It is an artificial hormone that allows the blood to carry more oxygen, thus boosting endurance. It has been favored by endurance athletes and has saturated such sports as professional cycling and cross-country skiing.

First introduced into the world of cycling in the late 1980s, EPO gained notoriety during the 1998 Tour de France. Beginning with EPO and other doping drugs discovered by border police in the car of a masseuse for one of the cycling teams, the scandal progressed to riders being detained and questioned, with several admitting to taking doping drugs.

Now, the Harvard Medical School said patients who were treated aggressively were nearly 50% more likely to experience heart problems than patients in the low-hemoglobin group. Harvard's Medical School also published a report on EPO and blood doping.

For more information, go here.

Aspirin: Good News

I actually look for good news regarding pharmaceuticals and meds, and here is a bit of news that may help:

An aspirin a day may help keep head and neck cancers away, a new long-term study suggests. What is key is not the amount of aspirin ingested but the length of time that people were taking it that mattered.

According to the study, taking aspirin for under 10 years did not have a significant effect, [but] taking it 10 years or more was associated with a 30 percent reduction in cancer.

You can find the results in the study in the easy to find Archives of Otolaryngology.

The study involved 529 patients with head and neck cancer and another 529 without the malignancy. Participants were matched for age, sex and smoking status. They were also asked about their use of aspirin over the preceding decades.

Anyone who wants to take aspirin as a cancer preventive should first consult their physician. You should always talk to a physician before taking anything chronically.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Military Jets Buzz The Swamp

Not law related, but worth a look. I attended the Gators game versus South
Carolina. At halftime two jets flew over the stadium, at no more than 1000 feet.
Catch them streaking across the stadium right at the 25 second mark.

I think 90,000 people soiled themselves.

Big Pharma Courting Dems


After spending $10 million on G.O.P. incumbent candidates ahead of this year's mid-term elections, with Democrats getting about $4.5 million, Big Pharma can expect a somewhat hostile reception on Capitol Hill after the Democrats begin running the show in 2007.

GOP Billy Tauzin left Congress in 2005 to work as a lobbyist for PhRMA.
Soon-to-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said Tauzin sold seniors down the river for two million dollars, the sum Tauzin was reportedly paid to join the association he runs.

A PhRMA rep now says, "There will be a renewed emphasis on making new friends and reaching out to Democrats, and especially pro-business Democrats." Source here.

My prediction: A waterfall of money will change the minds of key Dems. No surprise there.

Hemophilia Drug Causing Problems in Vets?

There are reports that a blood-coagulating drug used primarily to treat rare forms of hemophilia has been used on wounded American troops in Iraq, even though it can cause clots that lead to heart attacks and strokes.

The drug is known as Recombinant Activated Factor VII. The FDA has approved in the United States for treating forms of hemophilia that affect fewer than 3,000 Americans.

te Army medical command considers it a medical breakthrough that gives front-line physicians a way to control deadly bleeding. Physicians in Iraq have injected it into more than 1,000 patients, according to the Baltimore Sun.

For more go here.

Will Congress Give FDA Firepower?

From several sites:

Last week the U.S. Senate took testimony regarding a bill that gives a bit of oomph to the FDA.

The new bill includes a temporary ban on consumer advertising of newly approved drug. The FDA had issued a report that informed that that it simply cannot track the safety of new drugs, nor respond quickly to problems.

The bill would require pharmaceutical companies to devise safety plans for new drugs. It calls for more disclosure of the results of drug trials in human subjects. It also would give the FDA the authority to require companies to carry out safety studies of drugs once they are on the market.

Source here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Trial Lawyers" In the GOP ?

The RNC Chairman is now Mel Martinez, a former trial attorney from Florida. He made his bones in Florida working personal injury cases, and now leads the cause for the recently thumped GOP. My guess is his Hispanic heritage was a key factor, since Hispanics deserted the GOP in droves earlier this month in the mid term elections. "Although between 40 and 44 percent of Latinos voted for President Bush in 2004, almost 70 percent of Hispanic voters cast their lot for Democrats last week, according to exit polls." Source here.

In Florida, a trial attorney is now Lt. Governor. He was a member of one of the state's most aggressive trial lawyer firms, Morgan & Morgan. A good background article on him can be found here.

How will a Hispanic Trial Attorney accept the personal debasing that is such a part of the hysterial dialogue on immigration while working the byways of the USA? Will the medical malpractice mess of laws in Florida be revisited? Kottkamp himself had a brush with death that may have changed him, and it turned into a malpractice claim.

The article notes that he was a plaintiff in an October 2005 lawsuit alleging that improper maintenance of the hospital's roof allowed mold to infiltrate the room where he had surgery. That event almost killed him.

Perhaps each will be able to avoid the demonizing that goes on in the litigation arena. Perhaps each will be able to fight the splitting that goes on at the highest levels of the GOP. Time will tell.

Vioxx: Another Verdict in Favor of Merck

A federal jury on Wednesday cleared Merck in the July 2003 heart attack suffered by a Utah man who took Vioxx for 10 1/2 months.

Charles Mason blamed the drug for the heart attack which he suffered in July 2003. He had taken Vioxx after years of taking other anti-inflammatory drugs because of back pain.

Defense counsel: Beck said he and co-counsel Tarek Ismail made several points during trial. The attorneys focused on Mason's admission under cross-exam that he stopped taking Vioxx four days before the heart attack. The other was that film taken during the operation to open his blocked artery showed that the blockage was almost all plaque, rather than a big blood clot.

Defense counsel argued that there was no Vioxx in the Plaintiff's system when the heart attack happened. During his closing argument, Beck focused on those four days without Vioxx.

During closing, Merck counsel apparently told jurors that the New Orleans M.D. who had testified he believed Vioxx caused the heart attack also testified that he had never seen that film and was not qualified to evaluate it.

More later.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ketek (Antiobitic): Bad News Ahead?

Ketek is a drug that has been approved in 2004 for the treatment of acute bacterial infections from chronic bronchitis, acute bacterial sinusitis and community-acquired pneumonia. There has been a link to Ketek ib reports of severe liver problems and deaths. As ar result the drug will be subjected to new scrutiny by the FDA.

The FDA will discuss the overall risks and benefits of the antibiotic Ketek during a Dec. 14-15 meeting, according to their site.
The joint panel's two-day review of Ketek could lead to a recommendation that the agency add further warnings to the label of the drug.

Ketek, also called telithromycin, carries a bold-type warning about the rare reports of liver failure and severe injury, some of them fatal, in patients treated with the drug.

For more, go here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A New Litigation Blog Worth A Look:

The Texas Litigation Blog.

My good friend Angel Reyes and his law partner Brian Cuban have started it. Not a stuffy blog, it seems to be focusing more on current events as well as law.

Vioxx By The Numbers

Merck filed papers with the SEC that indicated that as 10/6/06:

There were 23,800 Vioxx lawsuits, with 41,750 individuals, and more than 14,700 claims have been filed under the MDL's "File and Stay" agreement with Merck.

Nearly 7,600 Vioxx claims were filed in or transferred to the MDL in New Orleans;

13,750 Vioxx lawsuits have been filed before Judge Higbee in a NJ State Court;

Merck took a charge of $598 million for Vioxx legal expenses on top of the $685 million it had previously set aside for litigation reserves.

Source here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Bad Marketing Idea

I drove back from Florida this past weekend, watching the Gators beat USCe. On the way back to Georgia, I saw a car whiz by ... loaded up with lettering advertising an accountancy office.

The new SUV had Georgia plates; the rear tailgate window had two inch high lettering indicating the website of the business. Below it, the telephone number with an Atlanta area code. On the right side, the same number with the name of the business.

Good enough, you say. Well, not really. I watched as the SUV weaved in and out of traffic. Cut off by my count at least five cars. As the driver passed me then jumped in front of me in order to traverse two lanes to exit the interstate, a cigarette butt went out the window. Then he/she was gone.

About twenty minutes later, going nearly 100 m.p.h., you guessed it - the accountant. Again, swerving across lanes. Amazingly, another butt tossed from the window. As traffic was heavier (construction), the SUV was in view for a while. Cut off an 18 wheeler, with the trucker using his horn.

I can only tell you that I will remember that business, for all of the wrong reasons. How could this person be so stupid?

Merck's Vioxx Successor - Arcoxia

Merck sent data on heart risks as to the delayed arthritis drug Arcoxia. Arcoxis is/was to be a potential successor to the withdrawn painkiller Vioxx. The company said it seeks a government OK of Arcoxia in 30-milligram and 60-milligram dosages.

Merck supposedly expects the FDA's Arcoxia to take about six more months.

Arcoxia can be purchased in more than sixty countries but has been under review by the FDA since 2003.

Merck said its response to approvable letters issued on Arcoxia by the FDA includes results of the "Medal" clinical trial. The trial, begun in 2002, was specifically designed to evaluate Arcoxia's cardiovascular risks.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Trial Attorney Blog: Podcast

Dave Swanner and I have spent hours working on the Trial Lawyer Resource Center along with many others who are respected within the trial bar.

Mark Wahlstrom from Legal Broadcast Network talked with me about the efforts of the Trial Lawyer Blog. You can find it here.

Mark's blog is found here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Did the White House "Doctor" the 2003 Mission Accomplished" Video?

Take a look for yourself:

FDA Pharma Preemption: Recent Court Opinions

The news comes from both sides of the USA when it comes to the FDA Preamble as to preemption and its applicability in drug litigation. One supporter of the FDA's position says, "The FDA's bottom-line concern is that 'state-law attempts to impose additional warnings can lead to labeling that does not accurately portray a product's risks, thereby potentially discouraging safe and effective use of approved drugs." Source here.

First, the cases rejecting preemption - McNellis v. Pfizer Inc., 2006 WL 2819041 (D.N.J. Sept. 29, 2006), and others:

In McNellis the Court did not allow the preemption defense. The Court held that the regulations do not conflict with New Jersey's failure-to-warn laws. Recognizing the preamble as "an official agency statement" that favors pre-emption of conflicting state law claims, the court gave no deference to the FDA's interpretation because the agency's position has not been consistent over time, the regulations allow increased warnings when new risks emerge, and the relevant Act does not contain an express preemption clause.

You can find McNellis here: here (PDF Alert). You can find the Perry brief that was submitted on behalf of the Plaintiff by going here. (PDF)

After McNellis, Perry v. Novartis Pharma. Corp., No. 05-5350 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 16, 2006) was rendered and it also rejected the FDA's argument. The Perry Court found that a state law requirement to provide an additional warning would not create a conflict or make it impossible to comply with state and federal law.

A 2nd Circuit case, Desiano v. Warner-Lambert (2d Cir. Oct. 5, 2006) also did not agree with the FDA's position.

Court Opinion siding with the FDA Preemption argument:

In re Bextra and Celebrex Marketing Sales Practices and Product Liability Litigation, 2006 WL 2374742 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 16, 2006),

In Bextra and Celebrex, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed state law failure-to-warn claims involving a prescription drug because they conflict with the FDA's determination of the proper warning and pose an obstacle to the full accomplishment of the objectives of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The original label for the drug was approved in 1998, was revised in 1999 to add cardiovascular risks, and was later revised in 2005.

In dismissing claims that cardiovascular warnings were not adequate, the Court gave deference to the FDA's interpretation of the reach of the agency's labeling regulations. Note that the Court rules that consumer fraud claims were not deemd preempted.

The Court relied on the Geier decision.

Trasylol (Heart Surgery) News: Link To Kidney Failure

Trasylol (Generic: Aprotinin) is produced by Bayer. It is an injectable drug used to prevent excessive blood loss during heart surgery.

According to reports the drug doubles the risk of kidney failure and stroke and increases the risk of heart failure or heart attack by 55%. It is also linked with encephalopathy (degenerative brain diseases). Researchers announced their findings earlier this year, and the study results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In late September of this year, the FDA held a public advisory committee meeting on to address the safety profile for Trasylol.

Also in September, Bayer informed the FDA that it had completed a study on this drug. The early findings from this study of patients from a hospital database reported that use of Trasylol may increase the chance for death, serious kidney damage, congestive heart failure and strokes.

October was not kind to Bayer and Trasylol. In October, Bayer suspended two senior employees over the company's failure to provide U.S. regulators with data on its heart-surgery drug Trasylol. Bayer also said it had hired an independent counsel to investigate its actions regarding the disclosure of the preliminary results from the Trasylol study. Source here.

FDA officials apparently contacted Bayer about making changes to the label, and also about developing a possible blood test to screen patients for adverse reactions.

Doctors currently are advised to give a small test dose to patients first, but FDA staff have said the tests do not always work and can also be fatal.

Election Day: What A Candidate Should Not Do

I have always subscribed to an adage (which some say is a tad corny) coined by Coach Don Shula years ago: "When you win, you can't always tell if you have done too much; when you lose you can always tell you've done too little." I apply it to my work ethic in all aspects of my office: Convincing a potential client to allow my firm to work for her, preparing for a deposition, getting ready for trial. From sports to family.

I have seen many candidates try to do too much in their campaigns, only to end up doing too little.

One candidate for Indiana's Ninth congressional district (source thanks to Crescat Sententia) started a blog in May 7, 2006 with one post, and did too little over the course of his campaign with it. He never paid attention to it after one post. It just sits there on the web, like a business card kept in a wallet. One comment was apparently written by a person named "dick in the dirt."

So future candidates, don't put up a blog and let it wither away. To make matters worse, now it's crosslinked on another blog - comments and all - as an example of not following through.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ortho Evra (Contraceptive Patch): More Lawsuits Filed

Two lawsuits were filed in San Francisco regardnig the Ortho Evra patch. You can find them listed as Bracken-Hodge v. Ortho-McNeil, 06-457523; and Abel v. Ortho McNeil, 06-457524. In all more than forty women sued the makers of a popular birth-control patch alleging the contraceptive caused serious illnesses and at least one death.

In September, the FDA warned women that their risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs may be higher if they use the Ortho Evra birth-control patch instead of the pill.

The product label was updated to reflect the results of one study that found women using the patch faced twice the risk of clots than did women on the pill. A second study, however, found no difference in risk between the two forms of birth control.

For source go here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Judicial Elections: A Disgrace

I've been in several states where there are hotly contested elections for judge or justice. I can tell you that I am sick of the attacks. Shameful. Disgraceful. An attack on the very fabric of our justice system.

In one Florida community there is an ongoing battle for a County Court position. The jurisdiction of county courts extends to civil disputes involving $15,000 or less.

The majority of non-jury trials in Florida take place before one judge sitting as a judge of the county court. The county courts are sometimes referred to as "the people's courts," probably because a large part of the courts' work involves voluminous citizen disputes, such as traffic offenses, less serious criminal matters (misdemeanors), and relatively small monetary disputes.

In the relatively small potatoes court the level of name calling and sniping literally took my breath away. I witnessed a shouting match between supporters of each candidate. I have heard that one candidate has trashed the moral reputation of one lawyer who dared oppose that candidate. The lawyer caught in the crossfire handles six and seven figure cases so the likelihood that he will ever appear before who gets elected is almost zero.

In Georgia, there is a spot running that has been called the most brutal ad ever produced. The opponent had a staffer tell him not to refer to his opponent as a "one legged Jew."

In Virginia a law student is physically tackled for asking a hard question of a senate candidate.

For shame. No solution in sight. Judicial appointments will not work.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Vioxx: Trial #11 in the MDL

As the 11th Vioxx trial begins before Judge Fallon Merck disclosed that general counsel Kenneth Frazier will be receiving a raise. His base salary will be $780,000.

The company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Chief Executive Richard T. Clark recommended increasing Frazier's salary because of his "significant contributions to Merck, as well as his highly valuable experience and exceptional leadership abilities."

Source: Here.

Law Tech: Top 10 Research Tools

I'm always striving to stay ahead of the curve in my law practice. It's more than simply reading law periodicals - I subscribe to E Week, which by the way is free and has as a focus, "Breaking technology news including hardware, security, networking, software, reviews, and research." I also regularly read items on Lifehacker and read C|Net on a daily basis.

I've been going back to an article posted on C|Net the past week. It is titled, "Top 10 Research Tools" and can be found here.

To me, that article highlights pertinent tools for your lawyer toolbox. Of the "top 10" we now regularly use here at the office Google Earth, Google Scholar, and Diigo. The first two you know. Here is what C|Net says about Diigo:

Diigo is an online bookmarking tool with a twist. Sometimes, merely saving a bunch of tagged Web sites to a list of favorites is not enough. Ever wanted to highlight one cool corner of a Web page? Do you wish you could scribble on various Web sites to collect recipes, plan a vacation, or write a big research paper, then share your notes? Diigo can help you do that.

I have been using Diigo for about ten days and like it more than, which is another bookmarking tool.

I have been able to use Google Earth for demand packages, mediations, and in preparation for trial (I have not used it in a trial yet). It's incredibly useful.

With Google Scholar, the choices are limitless. One late evening I wanted to brush up on joint and several liability. I typed those words in, and the first journal article was, "Settlements Under Joint and Several Liability." G.S. can help in a pinch.

The article is worth a read.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Health Insurer Sues Plaintiff's Lawyer

Actually it was Primax on behalf of the insurer. The following was posted on one of the lists I subscribe to here in the South:

Last year, [lawyer name] settled a clear liability case for the $100,000 policy limits. There were medical bills of $172,000 (client was in a coma for a while, and will never be the same). We did not pay the heatlh insurer.

Primax Recoveries, Inc., on behalf of my client's Promina employee benefit plan, has now sued in USDC for "equitable relief" alleging that it is a "fiduciary" (is a collection agency a fiduciary under ERISA?).

Has anyone encountered one of these? Any suggestions / thoughts appreciated.

Do you ignore liens? In a post Sereboff age it is just asking for a lawsuit. Previously I posted info on Sereboff here.

Seroquel: Subpoenaes to Drugmaker

AstraZeneca received subpoenas from state regulators in California and Alaska last month seeking information about its marketing of a Seroquel, an antipsychotic medication.

In a document posted on its Web site, AstraZeneca said it received a subpoena from the California Attorney General's Office seeking information about the marketing and sale of Seroquel in the state. The subpoena also sought information about the drug's status on the "state's formulary," AstraZeneca said, which could be a reference to state programs covering prescription drugs.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Effexor (Anti-Depressant): Overdoses Reported to the FDA

The FDA said Wednesday that overdoses had been seen in patients taking Wyeth's anti-depressant Effexor. Overdoses were reported in patients using Effexor, mostly in combination with alcohol or other drugs, the agency said in a statement.

"Health care professionals are advised to prescribe Effexor and Effexor XR in the smallest quantity of capsules consistent with good patient management to reduce the risk of overdose," the FDA said on its site.

Overdoses have resulted in death or have created symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, coma, seizures, vomiting and vertigo.

Halloween Connection? Vampire Bat Protein In Proposed Drug

An experimental stroke treatment designed to copy a protein found in vampire bat saliva has been put on hold because of potential safety problems.

Forest Laboratories decided to stop enrolling patients in a study of the compound desmoteplase as a treatment for stroke until further data have been analyzed. Desmoteplase is a genetically engineered version of a clot-dissolving protein found in the saliva of the vampire bat Desmodus rotundus. The compound aims to capitalize on the bat saliva's ability to prevent the blood of its prey from clotting, keeping blood flowing as it feeds.

You can sink your teeth into the complete article by going here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Florida: Danny Rolling To Be Executed Today

I'm a University of Florida Graduate. After many long years, Danny Rolling will likely die today.

Daniel Harold Rolling is the convicted murderer and mutilator of five students in Gainesville, Florida, in August 1990. He was also suspected of—but never tried on—a triple homicide on November 4, 1989, in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the attempted murder of his father in May 1990.

Here is a posting from a Florida graduate on what happened sixteen years ago. This world will be better with Rolling dead:

"It was the summer of 1990. I had transferred in to begin the accelerated first year architectural design sequence at the University of Florida. The first few years in this program is where I met most of my lifelong friends. Friends that I can relate to, trust and respect… Manual Taboada was one of these friends. We worked together into the late hours/ early morning countless times and when time permitted, we had fun. Manny was a free spirit, intellectual, creative athletic type, if there is such a thing. I recall seeing his long pony tail and wondering what the hell a 6’-3” 225 lbs. guy had to do with 2 feet long hair… but then again, maybe it was just hair envy, as mine began receding that year. Manny was a jokester. He was a guy that could make me laugh just be being himself. One night at a party that featured one of the architectural bands, Manny and I began a chant to get the group to play a request. “Step by Step”; it was some cheesie boy band song, and the chant was in jest. The guys on stage didn’t seem to think it was funny, but to all around, to see two big guys cheering on as such, it was hysterical. Later in the semester, Manny and I got together a fair amount of talent to organize our first flag football team. We saw the chance of participating in a sport, and reliving our high school football years as a means of breaking the monotony of studio. We looked forward to playing that fall. On Sunday, August 26th, I visited Manny at his apartment. I got a chance to meet his roommate, Tracy Paules… She was a hottie, but that’s all I got to know about her. We went outside to throw the football around and shoot the #badword#. The following day, Manny was missing at the studio.

Gainesville was already in turmoil over the deaths of some local coeds, and a rumor had started that a guy was killed also. For the life of me, I never thought there was a chance that a serial killer could go unnoticed against someone of Manny’s stature. I wondered where he was, but wasn’t really considering anything could have happened to him. When the news hit that Manny was one of the victims, that’s when, in my opinion, all hell broke lose in Gainesville. Prior to that, I could comfort my girlfriend with reassurance… after that point, we, as a couple, found others who where experiencing the same fears as us. I recall relocating to another architecture student’s apartment. We slept on the floor, huddled with about 12 guys and girls. Someone stood up to stand watch. Under each pillow was a weapon. I had a long blade. Others had guns. We were indeed scared.

Once the dust settled (if it ever really did), and Rollings was caught, my pain was eased slightly, but Gainesville was different. It lost a little bit of charm. It lost a little bit of security. It lost a great guy. I never really got a chance to be great, lifelong friends with Manny, but to me, he’s still a friend to this date. And as his friend, I suggest that the State of Florida re-thinks the death penalty. It is far too humane. I do not think that I would have a problem rounding up a posse and settling the score as it should be settled. Limb from limb, eye for an eye… that dirtbag needs to die painfully.

With respect to Manny; I love you man.
I’m 37 years old now and I still play flag football and draw pretty pictures of buildings.
Manny may have been doing the same thing today.

October 25th, 2006 – It’s about #badword# time."


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

NYT Editorial: ATLA Name Change

From the NYT today, an editorial on the ATLA name change, quoted here in part, and you can go online or buy the paper version today to read the restL

IF a rose would smell as sweet by any other name, will trial lawyers smell better with a new one? That’s the question posed by the impending self-reinvention of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. After Election Day, the 65,000-member outfit whose lawyers brought us multibillion dollar settlements in cigarette cases, millions of asbestos injury claims and lawsuits over McDonald’s coffee will change its name to the American Association for Justice.

The problem for the lawyers is that the genius of the tort system — its capacity to marshal the entrepreneurial energies of the bar — is also its greatest public relations liability. Indeed, whether trial lawyers are part of a distinctively American regulatory solution or part of a distinctively American problem, the new name seems unlikely to change the way Americans view them.

John Fabian Witt, a professor of law and history at Columbia, is the author of the forthcoming “Patriots and Cosmopolitans: Hidden Histories of American Law.”

Friday, October 20, 2006

Advertising: Another Reason To Record Spots (Radio)

I have posted from time to time on advertising and live radio pots. What I mean by this is that the on air personality will read the spot, as opposed to using a taped spot.

One station in Atlanta is notorious for butchering lawyer spots. Today was no exception. A local attorney sponsors an NFL injury report - a 60 to 90 second roundup of the current wire information.

Leading into today's 8:30 a.m. (or so) time, all of Atlanta heard this: "The [Attorney Name] Injury Report" then laughter. Commentary went like this - In a comic character New York voice one personality said. "Hey if youse guys trip and fall over your azzz, call the law office of [xx] ... he'll sue whoever hurts you." More laughs, a reading of the report information, an incorrect reading of the telephone number of the lawyer, more laughter, mikes cut off, recorded spot read.

A train wreck. Embarrassing, really. Never agree to have live spots read.

Florida Trial Attorneys Name Change

The Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers has changed its name to ... Florida Justice Association. This after ATLA has renamed itself, n/k/a American Association for Justice.

I'm sorry, I don't like it. The Georgia version of ATLA has a similar decision to make, and I will guess that the name will delete Lawyer from the title. A mistake. Florida Lawyers for Justice gets the message across.

I'm not surprised, really. It seems that those attorneys who advertise are never consulted on items that matter the most ... how to convey a message. FJA just does not do it.

FDA Plans Stent Safety Meeting

Drug-eluting stents marketed by Boston Scientific Corp. and Johnson & Johnson will be discussed at a Dec. 7 and 8 FDA meeting.

The FDA announced the dates for a previously discussed meeting to look at whether drug-coated stents may actually increase the risk of deadly blood clots. The FDA began discussing the meeting after several studies showed patients with drug-coated stents had a higher risk of developing blood clots than patients with bare metal stents. Both types of devices are designed to keep arteries open after they have been cleared of fatty deposits.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dr. Peter Rost's Blog

I had someone recommend to me Dr. Rosts's blog. According to the site, Rost is former Vice President for Pfizer who became well known in 2004 when he emerged as the first drug company executive to speak out in favor of reimportation of drugs.

He is the author of a book I just picked up: "Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman," which shines the light on his trials and tribulations with Pfizer as it assimilated Pharmacia, his prior employer.

A review on another site has this to say about Rost and his book: Rost's book is about more than just himself. Much of the latter half, in fact, has nothing to do with Rost's battle with Pfizer, but is rather a litany of recent drug company corruption, and Rost argues convincingly that the FDA and America's major medical journals have been co-opted by the industry. When he moves on to examine the American economy at large, where he lays out some eye-opening statistics comparing skyrocketing CEO salaries with the static ones of American workers, we realize Rost has reached his destination. (Source: Here).

My early view on this doctor is that he is a fire brand, and he has a pair of brass ones to take on Pfizer. Worth a read of his blog, IMHO.

Study: Stents Pose Higher Than Expected Risks

An experimental treatment used to clear clogged neck arteries carries a higher-than-expected risk of stroke and death, according to a study that was stopped because of safety reasons.

The study compared the use of stents - small tubes that prop open blood vessels - with a common surgical procedure for cleaning out blockages in the carotid artery. Deaths and strokes were more than twice as common in patients treated with stents, the researchers found.

The new study is published in the most recent New England Journal of Medicine.

Standard treatment for this condition involved doctors clamping off the artery with a surgical intervention to clean out clogged arteries. There are risks, particularly for those patients with heart damage or problems in the other carotid artery.
Doctors then developed another treatment, using a catheter to string a wire mesh stent into the artery that expands and props the artery open.

Carotid stenting has been around since the mid-1990s. The FDA has approved stenting in limited instances - for patients who have symptoms from an artery that is blocked 70%+ or more and for whom surgery would be highly risky.

For more go to the NEJM site. Source: Associated Press.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Vioxx: Court Orders Merck to Produce Defense Trial Costs

A New Jersey judge ordered Merck to release records on how much it spent on a trial involving its Vioxx painkiller.

This information should give many people a clear understanding of how Merck spends on Vioxx trials as well as what defense costs may be in the future, at least in New Jersey. More than 29,000 suits have been filed against Merck.

Judge Carol Higbee's Order arises from a request from lawyers for a Plaintiff in a recently tried case that Merck pay their legal fees and expenses of roughly $5.6 million for a trial that combined the cases of two men who suffered heart attacks while taking Vioxx.

The jury found Merck committed consumer fraud in its marketing of Vioxx, and that finding allows plaintiffs' firms to ask for legal fees.

Merck balked at the expense level, prompting plaintiffs' lawyers to ask how much Merck spent on the trial. To the surprise of no one, Merck objects.
For more go here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Insurance Companies Expect Record Profits in 2006

Insurance companies are expecting record profits in 2006 after predictions of another year of devastating hurricanes did not happen. Industry experts are estimating that profits may reach $60 billion.

The record profits expected this year come after a terrible 2005, when insurers paid out $61 billion for damage from Hurricane Katrina and other storms. Even so, the insurers ended up with a profit of $43 billion for the year because of exceptionally good results on investments, declining claims on policies on homes away from the coast and profits on other lines of coverage.

For more go here.

OTC Obesity Drug Xenical: "Unpleasantness"

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has asked pharmacists to warm patients about the unpleasant side effects that may occur with a potential over- the-counter diet drug. The drug works by preventing fat from being absorbed by the body, a process that can cause oily stools, excess gas and rectal discharge.

U.S. regulators are considering Glaxo's application to sell a low-dose version of prescription medicine Xenical at retail pharmacies.

GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman Brian Jones said the company is educating pharmacists to let patients know they must follow a low-fat diet and exercise to avoid these side effects. He said if a person who buys the drug keeps to a low-fat diet, that person won't notice them. But if the person continues with a high-fat diet the effects are likely to emerge.

Go here for more.
Lester Crawford is the former commissioner of the FDA. He will plead guilty to federal charges of failing to disclose owning shares in companies regulated by the agency.

The charges against Crawford included filing a false document and violating federal conflict-of-interest laws. Crawford may face as much as six months of jail or house arrest and a fine of $50,000.

Government investigators have been probing Crawford's financial dealings since he stepped down as FDA commissioner in 2005 a little more than two months after his Senate confirmation. He stated in 2004 that shares of Sysco Corp. and Kimberly-Clark Corp. had been sold when he and his wife continued to hold them, and he failed to disclose income from Embrex Inc. stock options, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said in a court filing.

Crawford, who was acting or deputy FDA commissioner for more than three years, also served as chairman of the FDA's Obesity Working Group in 2003 and 2004 while owning shares of Sysco, a distributor of snack foods, and Pepsico Inc., the world's second- biggest soft drink maker, according to court papers. The panel was formed to study the link between weight and health.

The source for this post can be found here.

How can any sane person expect the FDA to protect the consumers' interests when a person who owns stock in the area charged with his regulatory oversight guards the door?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Website Debut: Doctors Post Opinions of Pharma Drugs

Sermo Inc. runs It's a password-protected private forum where supposedly candid comments made by doctors may be posted then seen (for a fee) by Wall Street investment firms.

The site will also be a forum for doctors to share information about so-called off-label uses of drugs, for conditions other than those approved by the Food and Drug Administration. reports that Sermo generated publicity early. A doctor reportedly commented that Pfizer's Lipitor has been anecdotally reported as causing nightmares in some patients.

In another comment one doctor allegedly said the diabetes drug Byetta was associated with ``sudden death" in 50 patients.

The site has come under criticism from Public Citizen , a Washington nonprofit consumer advocacy group that frequently petitions the FDA to have dangerous drugs removed from the market. Public Citizen said companies should not attempt to supplant the FDA's watchdog role

Friday, October 13, 2006

Are Certain Insurance Co. Execs.' Reputations = Child Molesters?

You decide: State Farm filed a motion in a Mississippi Court seeking a change in venue for lawsuits filed in southern Mississippi by individuals who claim insurance carriers failed to pay insured losses to those affected by the destruction of Hurricane Katrina

The damages requested in the lawsuits total about $20 billion and State Farm is petitioning the court to remove the cases to northern Mississippi where the opinion of insurance companies is more favorable.

State Farm included survey results with its motion, which show that 49 percent of people in southern Mississippi believe that insurance executives are on the same level as child molesters.

Read more at the

Convicted child molesters deserve the death penalty, but it shows just how bad the climate is now for insurers in a state that pushed so hard for tort reform.

GA Elections: GOP Involved in Vote Suppression

As in other states with GOP controlled legislatures, here in Georgia the GOP has passed laws which limit that most fundamental of rights, the right to vote.

Georgia's General Assembly has passed photo I.D. laws which have now been struck down three different times as unconstitutional by both the state and federal courts. ("Third Judge Declares Voter I.D. Unconstitutional")

The news today is much more ominous however, and troubling to any reasonable citizen. Why? A week after a judge struck down Georgia's photo ID requirement for voters because it violated the state Constitution, nearly 200,000 letters — not the originally reported 20,000 — were sent out to registered voters, notifying them they may not have a valid driver's license or state-issued photo ID and therefore cannot vote - an incorrect statement of the law. Photo ID is not required to vote Nov. 7.

To me and others, it is a willful violation of the court's order. One Democrat member of the elections board - the GOP controlled entity that sent the letter - said, "This shows the lengths to which Republicans are willing to go to stay in power."

The Judge entered his Order on September 19, 2006, and it made headlines everywhere that day. According to a printing and postal delivery schedule provided by the State Elections Division of the Secretary of State's office, there were 79,496 letters delivered to the post office for mailing on Sept. 20 and another 115,747 sent on Sept. 25.

Foul play? It is unprecedented that the elections board would have sent out the letters, since traditionally it was the job of the election division of the Secretary of State's Office.

Is this how any one party should handle a right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Georgia Politics: Governor's Race and College Football

It seems that what has happened here in Georgia this past week is just one of those "southern things" (with apologies to Buckeye and Nittany Lion Fans) ...

Sonny Perdue is the current Governor of the state, and he is in an election battle with Democrat Mark Taylor. After the Unviersity of Georgia's football team was pounded into submission by the Vols from the University of Tennessee 51-37, the statewide newspaper (the Atlanta Journal Constitution) had a headline that read, "Vols Put 'Dogs in their place."

Well, the sitting Governor (a Bulldog fan) had enough. He wrote to the paper this missive:

Here's The Guv's letter to the editor that ran in the AJC:

"I finally figured out why your readers no longer have confidence in your opinion.

"Sunday's sports page headline is an indication of the way The Atlanta-Journal Constitution views Georgia. From the front page to the business page and now to the sports page, it is as if the AJC gleefully awaits lousy news about all things Georgia and pounces with their poison pens whenever bad things happen to the good people of our state.

"Other cities celebrate the successes and mourn the losses of local businesses, individuals and sports teams. The AJC takes the opposite position and - instead of boosterism - criticizes, investigates and ridicules all things Georgia.

"The AJC, not UGA, is the real loser. In its mean-spirited delight over misfortunes, it has squandered the precious First Amendment right to influence and thus be considered a trustworthy source of objectivity. No wonder more and more people are tuning you out and turning you off." Go here.

The attention this letter garnered after it was written and published in the Sunday paper is what should amaze you. Today is Thursday - day 4 after it was published - and it is still news. Monday and Tuesday two radio stations spent two HOURS each discussing this letter on sports by a Governor. Wednesday and today there are articles in the paper mentioning it. On October 10, 2006, the paper ran a transcript of the Governor's live appearance on a local sports talk show that discussed the letter.

Newspapers in Macon, Charleston and Biloxi have reported on it. So what you say? So, here is yet more proof of how college football is viewed in the South. Governor Perdue does not write to the Editor of the paper about high school gradution rates or college athlete graduation rates, but writes about a headline over a high school football game.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In Florida Trial on Fake Cuban Cigars Starts

Should be interesting, given the potential jury pool in South Florida:

Suspected Cuban cigar counterfeiters from Little Havana to Hialeah may be in big trouble. Altadis U.S.A. has helped finance an undercover Miami-Dade Police probe of five suspects charged with trafficking in counterfeit cigars.

The first of three federal trials, set for today, raises controversial issues about the integrity of the investigation, the fake Cuban cigar market, and the U.S. trade embargo against the Castro government. Altadis U.S.A. fronted at least $17,750 to police for five undercover ''buys'' of allegedly fake Cuban cigars, boxes and labeling materials in three separate cases. Police returned about $4,000 in unused money.

Altadis also footed the bill for hauling away and storing seized materials for the upcoming trials, court records show.

An Altadis rep says that a Miami-Dade counterfeiter of 1,000 boxes deprives Altadis U.S.A. of $150,000 to $200,000 in sales.

For more, go here - the Miami Herald (the source of this post).

In Florida Trial on Fake Cuban Cigars Starts

Should be interesting, given the potential jury pool in South Florida:

Suspected Cuban cigar counterfeiters from Little Havana to Hialeah may be in big trouble. Altadis U.S.A. has helped finance an undercover Miami-Dade Police probe of five suspects charged with trafficking in counterfeit cigars.

The first of three federal trials, set for today, raises controversial issues about the integrity of the investigation, the fake Cuban cigar market, and the U.S. trade embargo against the Castro government. Altadis U.S.A. fronted at least $17,750 to police for five undercover ''buys'' of allegedly fake Cuban cigars, boxes and labeling materials in three separate cases. Police returned about $4,000 in unused money.

Altadis also footed the bill for hauling away and storing seized materials for the upcoming trials, court records show.

An Altadis rep says that a Miami-Dade counterfeiter of 1,000 boxes deprives Altadis U.S.A. of $150,000 to $200,000 in sales.

For more, go here, the Miami Herald (the source of this post).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Lawyer Blog and YP Ads

I ran across the Ben Glass blog, here. Mr. Glass in turn links to an ezine article about yellow page marketing for businesses. The article tells of nine mistakes made in yellow page ads, including:

Imitating the competition and

Writing an ad that pleases you, while ignoring the buyer's self-interest.

I note this today because in our offices a set of phone books from North Atlanta arrived. I must tell you that many of the lawyer ads are TERRIBLE. One Firm has a double truck two page ad that lists just about every type of injury case the firm handles. The ad also lists bankrupcty, real estate, adoptions, three offices, has two photographs, but no website address.

Further in the attorney section, the Firm has decided to reduce the size of this mess, but keep the same content, throughout. What a mess. I am sure that the firm is very proud of the ad.

Have you reviewed your ad lately, if you are in the YP?

2nd Prempro Trial: Plaintiff Prevails

A jury awarded a Pennsylvania woman $1.5 million in compensatory damages after finding that her breast cancer was caused by Wyeth's Prempro.

Tobias Millrood of the law firm Schiffrin & Barroway represented Nelson.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Prempro Trial #2 Close to a Verdict

A jury in the Wyeth PrempPro trial is close to reaching a verdict, the jury foreperson told the judge Tuesday afternoon, in PA.

The jury has deliberated for more than 26 hours since 9/26/06 They are trying to decide whether Wyeth's PremPro hormone therapy caused breast cancer in a 66-year-old Ohio woman who had taken the drug to treat menopausal symptoms.

My comment: Either a deadlock or a defense verdict. Even with a Plaintiff's verdict, I don't ever expect these types of cases to reach a global resolution. In my humble opinion, the science is not there, and the confounding factors will make it very difficult for a jury to rule for a Plaintiff.

Gleevec (Cancer Drug): Risk for Decreased Heart Function

The cancer drug Gleevec may carry a risk for decreased heart function, drug maker Novartis Pharmaceuticals warned on 10/3/06.

Gleevec or "imatinib mesylate" is used to treat adults with a type of blood cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia and a type of cancer of the stomach and bowels known as gastrointestinal stromal tumour.

People who are using Gleevec and have high blood pressure, diabetes or a history of heart disease should talk to their doctor about the risks of heart failure, the company said.

Go here to read more.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Trial Lawyers Resource Center Blog Debuts

You can find it here at It's worth a read in my humble opinion.

More later today.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Marketing From The "Other Side"

Law firm Web sites are the single most effective marketing tool employed by corporate, transactional and defense firms, according to a national survey by Alyn-Weiss & Associates, Inc. of Denver. Go here. Thanks to Mr. Bodine for the post.

The sample of the results from a prior market survey conducted with firms that have a contingent fee practice can be found in PDF format here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Saints Are Coming

I just returned from New Orleans, where on Monday Night the USA was watching. The game scored the 2nd highest rating in cable history. I was there. You can read a bit more about that night on Ernie's site; I can add this:

The people from Louisiana I met were sky high to be back. What it did to their psychological well being cannot be stated enough. I've been to more than 250 football games (college and pro), and this was more electric than any Super Bowl.

The day was crystal clear, the weather had a fall tinge to it (if you live in the South, that is), and the hotels seemed full. Smiles abounded.

Game time neared and the dome was alive. From the first strains of the Rebirth Band to the blocked punt, it was a set of loud and proud moments. After the game, I had a chance to see Coco Robicheaux in the Marigny area of the City.

The song played by Green Day and U2 was a cover of a Skids' punk rock song, "The Saints Are Coming." If you listen closely to the words of this song, you hear the anger, the defiance (typical of punk songs, of course) and of what happened to the City. Very much unlike the other benefit song, "In The Sun." While the hook "the saints are coming" is hammered home in the tune, Bono asks mid-song "how long now?" He then sings, "living like birds in magnolia trees, how long now?" and shouts "a child on a rooftop, a mother on her knees, her sign reads "Please ... I am an American!!"

The crowd goes nuts at that point, but most missed that Bono was crying it out, not thumping his chest. It was a recounting of that unbelievable time post-storm where Americans were anguishing and dying in the flooded city. Perhaps the tone was more in the tone of "I am an American damn it, and this can't be happening to Americans."

Make sure to listen to the lyrics early in the song:

A drowning sorrow floods the deepest grief--How long now?
Until a weather change condemns belief--The stone says

You can see the Green Day/U2 performance here, and see if I am wrong in what I heard and now hear:

The refrain:

The saints are coming, the saints are coming
No matter how I try, I realise there's no reply
The saints are coming, the saints are coming

For many, the "Saints" could have been the governments that promised they would come, but did - too late.

Vioxx: What was Counsel Thinking?

It was an impossible case to win going in," said Chris Seeger, referring to the process of selecting which lawsuits go to trial, according to the Merck zero verdict rendered yesterday in New Orleans. Go here for the quote source.

Why was that said? It makes almost no sense to make a remark like that. Most rational people would ask counsel who filed this case: 1)Why did you accept that case? 2)Why did you file it in Court? and 3)Why in the world did you tee it up in Court?

Friday, September 22, 2006

EJustice Tips for Google Ads:

Thanks to Landon @ for providing me with this information. I'm very pleased with the company, who has designed sites for my office, including

This is taken from an email of this morning ...

Google’s share of the U.S. searches performed reached 49% in March of this year, while Yahoo’s total search share was 22% and MSN received 11% of total search volume.

Can you remember back to the late 90’s when Google was a baby and Yahoo, Lycos, Hotbot, AOL, AltaVista, Excite and several others were well entrenched players? How did Google, who entered a fiercely competitive industry late in the game, garner such a dominant market share?

Google was able to earn hordes of converts, build deep loyalty and eventually become a household name (“Google it” is now part of our lexicon) because they made our lives easier by bringing us the information we were seeking quickly and efficiently. Their mission has always been providing us the information that is most relevant to our keyword search. Their success in doing so makes them the number one option in search.&nb! sp;

To see an illustration of Google’s dedication to improving your search for information, compare the home pages of Google, Yahoo and MSN. contains the search bar, logo and some relevant links. Other than that, it is a blank page! It is obvious what they want you to do: search. The Yahoo and MSN homepages are filled with ads, entertainment gossip, news stories, sports updates, weather information and more clutter that begs for your attention. Your eye has to search for the search bar. Google has the disciplined focus of getting people the relevant information they seek.

Google solved a huge problem we had with other engines. If you can recall the early days of search, you will probably remember times that you tried a few different keyword searches and dug through several pages of results before finding any useful information. Google became the only search engine we needed because they! were the best at matching our search query with the content o! f websit es. The keywords we type tell Google what information we desire. They search their enormous database of websites for matches and rank the sites based on relevance.

Since Google’s algorithm for ranking websites is based on relevance, you need to make your website relevant if you want people to find you. Two of the key factors Google uses in determining your relevance are the links that point to your website and the content (text) on your web pages. Links tell Google that your site is probably important and helpful because other websites about similar topics consider your site an authority. Content is the information you provide your readers. Google’s robots are programmed to read your website’s content. The data it collects is processed through Google’s algorithm.

Therefore, if you want people interested in “defective widgets that cause spinal injury” to find your website when they search Google, you had better create page(s) of content specifically discussing defective widgets that cause spinal injury. It is not good enough to simply discuss that your practices helps people who’ve suffered injuries in one section, and that you handle defective product lawsuits in another section. Create content giving helpful information for the exact problem you can help people address. The more specific you are about defective widget spinal injuries, the more relevant you are to people with that problem. The more relevant you are the higher Google will rank you, meaning that more people will find you when they search for information on the topic. Figure out what specific type of clients you would like to earn, and create pages of content tailored to helping them.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

GA Workers Compensation Report

Report slams Georgia laws on Workers' Comp, from the AJC:

Injured workers in Georgia face some of the toughest obstacles in the nation to getting financial relief for their suffering, according to a study released Wednesday by a national consumer rights group.

"Georgia is extremely problematic," said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, a New York-based nonprofit that defends consumers' legal rights.

"It's certainly a state where workers have not fared very well in recent years."

Among the problems cited in the report:

•Georgia workers, who on average earn about $700 per week, receive the nation's lowest workers' comp pay – a maximum of $450 a week. Most states set the maximum rate at 75 percent to 100 percent of the state's average weekly wage.

•Georgia workers also have the shortest time to file a claim. The statute of limitations in Georgia is a year, vs. two to three for most other states.

•Georgia workers are cut off from weekly indemnity benefits — roughly two-thirds of their regular pay — after about 400 weeks, or just under eight years, with few exceptions such as catastrophic injury. Though they receive lifetime medical benefits, most workers aren't compensated for lost wages, physical or mental ability after 400 weeks, according to the report.

Go here for more.

Wyeth Wins First HRT Trial

A U.S. jury in the first trial against Wyeth's hormone replacement drug Prempro found that the company was not negligent and did adequately warn patients and doctors of the risk of cancer.

Analysts say also say Plaintiffs' lawyers will have a tougher time proving a disease link to Premarin and Prempro than they did with the diet drugs and a tougher time proving that Wyeth failed to inform patients and doctors' about potential risks for the hormone drugs.

For more, go here.

Vioxx Litigation Score Card

Well done and thorough article, link below which informs:

In the homestretch leading up to the latest trial in New Orleans, the score in the Vioxx litigation was 5 to 4 in favor of Merck. However, in mid-August, 2006, a New Jersey victory for Merck was thrown out reversing the score to 5 to 4 in favor of plaintiffs.

Go here for more.

Ortho Evra: New Warnings

Ortho Evra contraceptive patch will come with a new warning about a study suggesting users could face twice the risks of blood clots compared with birth control pills.

The label instructions for Ortho Evra also will carry results from another study that found the chances of blood clots were equal with the patch and a birth control pill.
The patch, which is replaced once a week, is viewed as more convenient than daily pills.

Scientists have known for years that the estrogen used in contraceptives raises the risks of blood clots, which can cause heart attacks or strokes. Women who use Ortho Evra are exposed to about 60 percent more estrogen than pill users.

For more, go here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Music Friday: U2 Debuts New Song @ Superdome 9/25

I'm in Atlanta, and the Falcons play the Saints 9/25 - in New Orleans. New Orleans is my favorite city and it's been a while since I have been. In today's news, it is being reported that U2 will now play at halftime and debut a benefit single, "The Saints are Coming:"

U2 and Green Day will debut their charity cover version of 'The Saints Are Coming' by Scottish punk band The Skids with a live performance on US television later this month.

Billboard reports that the bands will perform the song live at the re-opening of the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on 25 September, where American Football team the New Orleans Saints will play the Atlanta Falcons in a televised game.

Proceeds from the release of 'The Saints Are Coming' will go to Music Rising, an initiative co-founded by The Edge which helps musicians who lost their instruments during Hurricane Katrina.

For more, go here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Vioxx in JAMA: More Bad News

From the JAMA edition set to go October 4th:

CONCLUSIONS: In this comprehensive analysis of 114 randomized trials with 116,094 participants, rofecoxib (Vioxx) was associated with increased renal and arrhythmia risks. A COX-2 inhibitor class effect was not evident. Future safety monitoring is warranted and may benefit from an active and continuous cumulative surveillance system.

More could have been done to ferret out Vioxx's harmful side effects before any real damage was done. Also, heart-attack risk rose as the dose of Vioxx increased. This risk was most pronounced in the first month after users started taking the drug.

There's a lot of blame to go around -- starting with Merck, according to Dr. Graham. He also cast some blame on the FDA. "In this case, they knew before the drug came on the market that Vioxx increased the risk of heart attack,." Link.

I will slog through it, but you can read it here.