Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Truckers: Don't Take Chantix

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the trucking and bus industries, says that anyone taking Chantix shouldn't be allowed to drive. The Department of Transportation has alerted the heads of its myriad sub-agencies to the Chantix study and told them to take note of its findings and recommendations.set

The study found 988 cases of Chantix causing serious health problems, including seizures and heart trouble, in the last quarter of 2007 alone. It also found possible links to seizures, dizziness, heart irregularity, diabetes and more than 100 accidents.

For more go here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Lawyers/Firms With Bad Web Sites: Why Bother?

This week, not once but three times I have been searching out lawyers for various matters in other states. I am pretty sure that the litigators I sought out would not dare take even a basic deposition without being prepared, yet I am amazed at how little time is spent on a firm's web site. Several sites, to be blunt, conveyed a podunk image. The firms deserve better.

What did I find (or not find)? One site did not list a telephone number on any page except the contact us page.

One firm did not list any email contact, nor did it have a Consultation Form anywhere on the site. (For a good example of this form, go to my friend Richard Shapiro's site, here). No toll free number either.

These types of mistakes cost a firm money - lost opportunity, lost referral, lost potential clients. To me it shows a lack of understanding of the basics of the web. Worse, it means that I just move on to the next firm.

Is your firm's site one that I visited?

Oral Hormone Therapy Doubles Clot Risk

From Reuters:

Menopausal women taking hormone-replacement therapy pills may be at risk in excess of two times normal of developing a blood clot.

"This meta-analysis ... showed that current use of oral oestrogen increases the risk of (blood clots) by two-fold to three-fold," Pierre-Yves Scarabin and Marianne Canonico of the Paul Brousse Hospital in France wrote.

Link is here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tech: Zombies Among Us?

Tech Zombies that is. I am seeing what (to me) is a new phenomenon - texting or emailing while walking. I saw a man lurching oddly across a parking lot, and honestly thought something was wrong ... it was. Seems that he was working a phone --- hard --- while maneuvering the hazards of parking spaces.

Like this:

Someone is going to get killed doing this, don't you think?

Ad comes back to bite Life Lock

Have you seen the Life Lock ad, the one where the company chief gives out his Social Security Number and dares anyone to use it?

From the web:

"Davis (the company honcho) acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that his stunt has led to at least 87 instances in which people have tried to steal his identity, and one succeeded: a guy in Texas who duped an online payday loan operation last year into giving him $500 using Davis' Social Security number."

And there is more ... "Attorney David Paris said he found records of other people applying for or receiving driver's licenses at least 20 times using Davis' Social Security number, though some of the applications may have been rejected because data in them didn't match what the Social Security Administration had on file."

Go here for more.

Is this the end for Lifelock?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court, the FDA and Reality

While the U.S. Supreme Court traces the history of how a device gets approved, the reality of the FDA is to me much different.

From the Denver Post:

The Food and Drug Administration has finally acknowledged that it needs more resources to protect consumers from tainted food and drugs.

Unfortunately, it took the deaths of 81 people, a browbeating by members of Congress and a report detailing the FDA's woeful inability to expand overseas inspections before top agency officials would ask for more money.

It was a puzzling situation and one that has to make you wonder whether the Bush administration was putting the bottom line ahead of the health and safety of the American public.

Last week, FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach finally wrote Congress to say the agency needs an extra $275 million to make sure that food, drugs and medical devices from overseas are safe. The Senate appropriations committee quickly approved the request.

Given the high-profile instances of tainted products in recent years, it has become abundantly clear that the FDA does not have the resources to adequately inspect rising numbers of imports.

Last year, there was a string of pet deaths from melamine-contaminated wheat gluten imported from China. This year, the deaths of 81 people have been linked to tainted batches of the blood-thinning drug Heparin, also imported from China.

It's long past time to fix the FDA.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Google Health, Part 2

I found this on the Google Health site: To join, users must agree to various terms of use, including this: "When you provide your information through Google Health, you give Google a license to use and distribute it in connection with Google Health and other Google services." Doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling - do you feel better knowing that perhaps an old knee injury, or a diabetes condition may be "distribute[d]" by Google?

At the outset, there are companies such as Aetna and BCBS which have been in the online medical records business for some time. Google brings it together in 18 months ... and with only a limited set of partners, and an "advisory council."

Implementation: How will this work with the average consumer? I'm helping a client now who was badly injured in an incident. The medical records in this client's file from one incident exceeds 300 pages, none of which came to our office scanned. The client has an extensive history of medical problems, and this "unrelated" set of records is nearly 200 pages.

Let's presume that this person never went to an attorney, just had health issues. Person is more than age 50 - who scans 500 pages to upload to Google? Where does this person go to scan? Who will spend hours uploading?

From various sites, these comments:

One commentator says, "Early on, the program will rely mostly on a patient's own input because of the lack of partners outside of early signees such as The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and drug store chain Walgreens Co. "When it comes to lab data and medical history and those kinds of things, doctors rely today on reliable sources -- not the consumers themselves," Source here.

"Some observers have expressed concern that much of the information stored in Google Health will not be covered by the USA’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act." Source here.

My prediction- ads from Big Pharma will debut on the site within 12 months, and I will be shocked if 1% of the population uses this site. Stay tuned.

Google Health Debuts

From the site, below. From the blog: "One of the most exciting and innovative parts of Google Health is our platform strategy. We're assembling a directory of third-party services that interoperate with Google Health. Right now, this means you'll be able to automatically import information such as your doctors' records, your prescription history, and your test results into Google Health in order to easily access and control your data. Later, this platform strategy will mean that you will be able to interact with services and tools easily, and will be able to do things like schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and start using new wellness tools." Link here.

Page one of Google Health, here.

About Google Health

Google Health allows you to store and manage all of your health information in one central place. And it's completely free. All you need to get started is a Google username and password.

Google believes that you own your medical records and should have easy access to them. The way we see it, it's your information; why shouldn't you control it?

* Keep your doctors up-to-date
* Stop filling out the same paperwork every time you see a new doctor
* Avoid getting the same lab tests done over and over again because your doctor cannot get copies of your latest results
* Don't lose your medical records because of a move, change in jobs or health insurance

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spy on Your Friends

Or so says the WSJ in today's paper version. There are tools/sites to make it easier to "snoop."

The sites include:

Zabasearch.com: The site's tagline is: Telephone Numbers and Addresses Revealed Free

Wink.com:From the site - Wink People Search provides free people search across over 400 Million profiles from across the Internet - including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and all the other big social networks. You can search for people by name, location, work,and more

Spokeo.com: The site's main page says: Spokeo searches your friends' blogs and photos across 41 social networks so you don't have to visit hundreds of websites one by one.

Worth a look.

My friend, attorney Ed Lake from New York is a fan of zabasearch.com. Ed's office is located at: 270 West Main Street, Sayville, New York.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tips: UpgradeYour Life

I'm not talking about learning CPR or adopting a child, just everyday upgrades. From Lifehacker:

A list that will help you start the handle the endless items each day that dog you. The list includes:

Hack 8: Consolidate Multiple Email Addresses with Gmail

Hack 12: Instantly Retrieve Files Stored on Your Hard Drive

Hack 21: Design Your Own Planner

Take the time to look at the post. It's the best 15 minutes you will spend this week.
Go here for more.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Walmart's $10 Meds

From the Walmart Releases:

Beginning today, Wal-Mart, Neighborhood Market and Sam's Club pharmacies will fill prescriptions for up to 350 generic medications at $10 for a 90-day supply. This option will give customers an additional choice and save them time and money without the hassle of purchasing or signing-up for a pharmacy discount card.

You can find the list of drugs here (PDF Alert).


Friday, May 02, 2008

Vioxx Deadline Extended: June 30, 2008

Merck report this week that more than ninety percent of eligible U.S. claimants have elected to participate in its $4.85 billion proposed Vioxx settlement, and the drugmaker extended the deadline to opt in.

Merck said that, while it was satisfied with signing up the vast majority of potential participants, it was extending by two months -- until June 30 -- the deadline for remaining eligible former users of its withdrawn arthritis drug to enroll in its proposed settlement.

Link here.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Total Body Formula Lawsuit Filed in Georgia

Today my office filed a lawsuit for a client who claims she was injured because of an unsafe supplement known as Total Body Formula.

You may view the first two pages of the Complaint here.

The Total Body Formula product was sold in eight-ounce and 32-ounce plastic bottles. The Total Body Mega Formula is sold in 32-ounce plastic bottles. Both products are distributed by Total Body Essential Nutrition of Atlanta. The company is the sole distributor of the products and has voluntarily recalled Total Body Formula in the flavors of Tropical Orange and Peach Nectar and Total Body Mega Formula in Orange/Tangerine flavor.

The supplements were recalled, and the recalled Lots are: # 4016801, 4016802, 4024801, 4031801, 4031802 or 4031803.

The liquid dietary supplement products may cause severe adverse reactions, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, joint pain and fatigue. These symptoms can be followed by hair loss, nail brittleness and neurological abnormalities (such as numbness and other odd sensations in the hands, arms, legs or feet).

The FDA site informs:

The Florida Department of Health recently provided reports to the FDA on 23 individuals who experienced serious reactions to these products seven to 10 days after ingestion. In all cases, the reactions included significant hair loss, muscle cramps, diarrhea, joint pain and fatigue. The FDA subsequently learned and is investigating a report that some individuals in Tennessee using the same products have experienced similar reactions.

FDA laboratories are analyzing samples of the products to identify the cause of the reactions, including the possibility that the products contain excessive amounts of selenium, which is known to cause symptoms such as those described in the adverse events reported to the agency. Selenium, a trace mineral, is needed only in small amounts for good health.

The products have been distributed in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

The FDA is advising consumers in all states to avoid using the products immediately and to discard the products by placing them in a trash receptacle outside of the home.

Source here.

On May 1, 2008, this news from the FDA:

FDA Completes Final Analysis of "Total Body Formula" and "Total Body Mega Formula" Products
Testing reveals high chromium levels in addition to selenium

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s final analysis of certain flavors of "Total Body Formula" and "Total Body Mega Formula” has detected hazardous amounts of chromium.

On April 9, 2008, the FDA reported the dietary supplement products contained hazardous amounts of selenium in samples of "Total Body Formula" in Tropical Orange and Peach Nectar flavors and "Total Body Mega Formula" in the Orange/Tangerine flavor. Further FDA analysis of the products found high levels of chromium as well. The samples contained up to 3,426 micrograms of chromium for the recommended serving (17 times the recommended intake). The recommended chromium intake for an adult ranges from 35 to 45 micrograms per day.

Excessive consumption of chromium can cause fatigue, muscle cramps, hyperactivity, hypoglycemia, renal failure and liver toxicity. Excessive chromium intake also can interfere with certain medications.

The new FDA finding comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of confirmed cases of adverse reactions in consumers using the products has climbed to at least 201 individuals in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Consumers were first cautioned March 27, 2008 not to purchase and to discontinue the use of "Total Body Formula" in Tropical Orange and Peach Nectar flavors and "Total Body Mega Formula" in the Orange/Tangerine flavor after receiving reports of adverse reactions. (http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2008/NEW01812.html).

The FDA continues to investigate how excessive amounts of selenium and chromium got into the products.

The sole distributor of the "Total Body Formula" and "Total Body Mega Formula" products has voluntarily recalled the affected products.