A plant used as an herbal remedy in Asia for hundreds of years, kratom is rapidly becoming the subject of controversy and conflicting opinions in the United States. Some people swear by the natural supplement’s ability to treat pain, anxiety, and even addiction. Others are concerned about its potential for abuse and negative health effects — including death.

Even governmental bodies don’t quite know what to do with it. Kratom is illegal in some states, legally regulated in others, and unregulated in others. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) temporarily banned the substance in 2016, but then reversed course a few months later. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate kratom, it has specifically warned Americans not to use it.

What Are the Uses of Kratom?

Long considered the safe go-to pain reliever for pregnant women, Tylenol has recently come under fire for its potential risk to unborn babies. Recent research has reported links between prenatal exposure to acetaminophen and later developmental problems in children. Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists hasn’t changed its stance on the drug’s safety, a study published in the journal PLOS ONE in September labeled the link a “public health concern.”

What is Acetaminophen?

Found in Tylenol, Midol, Nyquil and other medications, acetaminophen (also called paracetamol) is one of the most commonly used drugs in the world. In fact, it is the active ingredient in more than 600 pain relievers and fever reducers, according to Nature Reviews Endocrinology. Because NSAIDs like ibuprofen are generally not recommended in later pregnancy, acetaminophen is considered one of the only safe pain relievers for pregnant women. In the U.S., as many as 65% of pregnant women may use the drug.

When Uloric hit the market in 2009, it was celebrated as the first new medication for gout in over 40 years. But ten years later, the news wasn’t so rosy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a black box warning for Uloric in 2019, the most serious alert for drugs still on the market.

The FDA now recognizes that people taking Uloric (febuxostat) have an increased risk of death compared to those taking another gout medication. And since Uloric was the best-selling gout drug at the time of the warning, a potentially large number of patients may have already been harmed.

How Does Uloric Work?

We all take our healthcare extremely seriously. We carefully evaluate the risks and benefits of taking new medications and would not take medication that would put us unnecessarily at risk. Some risks are inevitable, but it is our right to be able to weigh those risks and make the best decision for ourselves and our own bodies. But what if risks are being hidden from us? What if we can’t actually make a well-informed decision? These questions have become relevant in a recent string of lawsuits involving Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Invokana, Invokamet, and Invokamet XR are all used to treat type 2 diabetes and have since been linked to diabetic ketoacidosis and forced lower body amputations. The drug is a combination canagliflozin and metformin. Invokana was released by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and was approved by the FDA in 2013. Soon after patients began experiencing these potentially fatal side effects, leading to more clinical trials and legal claims against the pharmaceutical company.

Type 2 diabetes alters the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have a ten-year shorter life expectancy, and an increased risk of heart disease, strokes, and lower body amputations. Independent studies on Invokana have linked the drug to further aggravating conditions such as bone fractures, diabetic ketoacidosis, heart attacks, kidney failure, and lower body amputations. Many of these were never listed as side effects on the drug label. The FDA eventually issued a black box warning, the strongest warning the FDA has the authority to issue. Doctors rushed to switch their patients’ medications after they learned of the risk, but for some it was too late. Injuries linked to the drug’s use has since led to defective drug lawsuits, alleging that the company actively concealed knowledge of the risks to the public. Janssen has still not pulled the drug from the market.

Here is a more detailed list of common serious side effects of Invokana and related drugs:

  • Lower-Body Amputation: Clinical trials indicate that amputations were twice as likely for those taking the drug, and even higher for patients who had a previous amputation. Early signs of this include infections, pain, soreness, and tenderness in lower limbs.
  • Ketoacidosis: Ketoacidosis develops when the body is unable produce sufficient insulin, forcing the body to break down fat as an alternative and generating ketones. Too many ketones in the blood can lead to comas or death.
  • Fournier’s Gengrene: Invokana’s use of SLGT-2 inhibitors has been linked to these flesh-eating bacteria, more common in men. It affects the genitals and leads to tissue decay. If untreated this can be fatal. Note that the risk of Fournier’s is lower than the risk of amputations and ketoacidosis.

The FDA recommends that you contact your physician if you have taken Invokana, Invokamet or Invokamet XR and you have developed unusual pain in your lower body or other strange symptoms. It has stated that you should not stop taking the drug without conferring with your health care professional.

These suits can be filed individually or as part of a class action. We can help you determine the best way to proceed with your claim against Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Continue reading

When using a product that is supposed to be soothing and pain relieving, the last thing you should have to worry about is whether or not you’re taking a long-term health risk. Unfortunately, many thousands of cases filed against corporate conglomerate Johnson & Johnson allege that their baby powders and talc-based products are potentially harmful. If you or a loved one has developed a serious illness, like cancer, and believe it to be caused by such a product, contact Altman & Altman LLP today.

For many years, Johnson & Johnson has claimed that their baby powder and other talc-based products are soothing and safe to use. Over 16,000 lawsuits – including the first large one of 2020 filed on behalf of the Attorney General of New Mexico – allege otherwise, saying the powders contain harmful elements such as asbestos that cause various types of cancer, including mesothelioma.

The New Mexico lawsuit, filed at the beginning of January, alleges that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers about the dangers of their products and misled consumers – particularly children, black women and Hispanic women – about the safety of using those products.

Surgical hernia mesh is a medical implement commonly used to support the body during and after a surgery performed to fix a hernia – which is a tearing or protrusion of an internal organ or muscle. Hernia mesh has been utilized for many years, but can cause serious harm to patients, either due to medical malpractice or faulty mesh products. If you or a loved one suffered additional injury from the use of surgical hernia mesh, contact the personal injury attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP today.

Many hernia mesh products have been recalled or withdrawn from the market by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their high failure rates and high occurrence of painful side effects, such as:

  • Damage caused by shrinking, degrading (oxidizing) or migrating mesh products
  • Blockages to intestines
  • Autoimmune reactions or total rejection of the mesh by the body
  • Failure to prevent reoccurrence of the hernia
  • Development of fistulas – which are irregular connections made between organs that are intended to stay separated
  • Further organ tears or perforations as a result of the mesh

If you or a loved one experienced any of these types of incidents, you may be entitled to financial compensation, which can help offset the costs of resulting medical expenses, make up for lost wages due to being unable to work during extended recovery times, or to simply keep your mind at ease about not making money while you get back to normal.

What exactly is hernia mesh?

Hernia mesh is most often made from synthetic material – most commonly polypropylene – which is manmade material that, for decades, has been marketed as a safe choice that will not degrade or otherwise cause harm once it is inside the body. However, scientific studies have begun to show evidence on the contrary and Physiomesh, one of the leading brands of polypropylene mesh – made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon – was withdrawn from the market in 2016 for this reason.

Hernia mesh is intended to reduce the frequency of reoccurrence of a hernia – which occur most often following an injury involving high levels of strain on the body. Hernias can happen to anybody, and for a number of reasons, including:

  • Advancing age causing weakness in organs and muscles
  • Lifting of heavy objects
  • Intense coughing or sneezing fits
  • Pregnancy
  • Complications related to obesity
  • Poor nutritional health
  • Pre-existing connective tissue disorders

Corrective hernia surgeries can be accomplished with or without the use of hernia surgical mesh, but utilization of the mesh is supposed to reduce the frequency in which a hernia could be reaggravated by holding the repair in place and giving it time to adequately heal. Unfortunately, the mesh comes with its own risks attached – and those risks can be amplified if a doctor exercises negligent medical malpractice in its application or if the mesh isn’t properly treated before being placed, which can result in oxidation and degradation of the material, causing issues like those mentioned earlier. Continue reading

A recently-released Reuters report indicates that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) knew about the hidden dangers in its talc products for decades. Despite this knowledge, the manufacturing giant failed to warn regulators and the general public of the risks associated with using its products, such as Shower to Shower and Baby Powder. A form of asbestos, which has been linked to deadly diseases such as ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, is present in talc particles. As a result, thousands of J&J customers (mostly women) may have developed cancer from using talcum powder.

According to the Reuters report, J&J explained away early findings that talc contained asbestos by calling those findings statistically insignificant. The company may have also performed product tests in a manner that avoided detection of the deadly mineral. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed by using talc-based products.

After J&J was ordered to turn over thousands of pages of internal reports, company emails, and other documents, Reuters discovered that the company knew its talc-based products had tested positive for asbestos starting as early as 1971, and leading up until the early 2000s. In addition to failing to inform regulators and the general public, J&J appears to have influenced government-led scientific research on the adverse health effects of talc.

Mesothelioma Isn’t Just for Construction Workers

Although most mesothelioma cases involve construction and mine workers who spent years working in close proximity to asbestos, multiple victims of mesothelioma linked to talc-based products have been awarded huge sums in recent years. Mesothelioma is a particularly-aggressive form of lung cancer. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been harmed due to the negligence of J&J or any other manufacturer.

Even more victims and their families have filed lawsuits for ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder use. According to research, when women use talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes, the talc particles can travel into the vagina and through the fallopian tubes, embedding in the ovaries. Once this occurs, the embedded particles can cause irritation and inflammation, and may eventually lead to cancer. African-American women have been disproportionately impacted by the negligence of J&J and other manufacturers of talc-based products.

Thousands of Lawsuits Pending Against J&J

Earlier in 2018, plaintiffs won a $4.69 billion verdict after proving that their ovarian cancer was caused by J&J products Shower to Shower and Baby Powder. J&J is currently facing thousands of similar lawsuits. Asbestos is a particularly dangerous substance because of its extremely long latency period. Men who haven’t worked around the mineral for 40 years are still being newly diagnosed with mesothelioma today. This means that women in their 60s who haven’t used talc products since their 20s and 30s could soon be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, or other complications related to talc use more than 30 years ago. Continue reading

Zostavax is an approved vaccination manufactured by Merck Co. Inc. utilized to prevent the contraction of the shingles virus, known as herpes zoster. However, the vaccine has been shown to cause possible serious side effects in those who take it, and has resulted in lawsuits and class action suits against the company for failure to warn of possible dangers associated with the vaccine. If you or a loved one has experienced harm following inoculation with the vaccine, contact Altman & Altman LLP today.

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, varicella-zoster, although it is not known exactly why or how the virus – which goes dormant and resides in your body after healing from chickenpox – reoccurs as shingles in people over the age of 50. Regardless, shingles causes a painful rash in those afflicted, and can reoccur numerous times in those susceptible to it.

Symptoms associated with recognized side effects caused by the Zostavax vaccination include:

  • Redness, pain, itching, swelling, hard lump, warmth, or bruising where the shot was given.
  • Headache
  • Allergic reactions, which may be serious and may include difficulty in breathing or swallowing.
  • Contraction of chickenpox
  • Fever
  • Hives at the injection site
  • Joint pain/muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Rash on body, normally at the injection site
  • Contraction of shingles
  • Swollen glands near the injection site
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (muscle weakness, abnormal sensations, tingling in the arms, legs, and

upper body)

  • Partial facial paralysis

However, these symptoms that are recognized by Merck are not the only symptoms that have been reported by those who have taken the Zostavax vaccine. In fact, there have been much more severe side effects noted that have been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and prompted recent legal action against the company, including:

  • Blindness or damage to eyesight, including necrotizing retinitis
  • Paralysis
  • Brain damage
  • Death – at least 36 on record
  • Gastrointestinal disorders

Continue reading

Zostavax, a shingles vaccine manufactured by Merck, is the only live virus vaccine of its kind currently on the market. According to the CDC, all adults age 60 and older should receive the vaccine to reduce the risk of developing this painful disease. Unfortunately, Zostavax has recently been linked to serious medical complications, including death.

What is Shingles?

Characterized by an extremely painful skin rash, shingles usually affects only one side of a person’s body. Anyone who has had chicken pox in the past is at risk of developing shingles, but those with weakened immune systems are most susceptible. This includes people who have cancer or HIV, are under significant stress, or are 50 and older. Most people first notice a tingly, burning, or itchy feeling before the rash appears. The rash, which can hang on for 30 days or more, often blisters before disappearing. The nerve pain associated with the disease can last for months.

Shingles can cause serious damage to the nervous system and may lead to dangerous conditions such as encephalitis, meningitis, and stroke. Some people have even died after developing secondary conditions such as Guillain-Barre syndrome and congestive heart failure. A Boston drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to a dangerous or defective drug.

What’s Wrong with the Zostavax Vaccine?

Zostavax contains a live dose of varicella zoster, the virus that is responsible for causing both chicken pox and shingles. If you’ve ever had chicken pox, the varicella zoster virus remains dormant in your body. If your immune system becomes compromised due to a health problem, or simply getting older, the virus may “come back to life” and cause a painful case of shingles. According to Merck, the weakened form of varicella zoster in its vaccination is intended to stimulate the immune system, thus keeping the virus in its dormant state and preventing the formation of shingles.

Unfortunately, in addition to being only about 51 percent effective at preventing shingles, the vaccine may actually cause the disease it is supposed to be preventing. Victims of Zostavax side effects and complications have filed lawsuits alleging that, among other things, the vaccination’s warnings fail to adequately warn of these risks. A MA drug injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a drug manufacturer.

What Injuries are Linked to Zostavax?

In addition to alleging that Merck failed to warn the public of side effects linked to Zostavax, lawsuits also claim that patients treated with Zostavax suffered shingles, autoimmune diseases, blindness, hearing loss, nerve problems, spinal inflammation, and heart complications. Even more disturbing, some reports have linked Zostavax to death. Of the more than 1,100 serious adverse events reports related to the live shingles vaccine, 90 were for deaths. Continue reading

Update on Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuits

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of drugs that decrease the production of stomach acid. They are often used to treat ailments such as acid reflux and GERD.  Some of these drugs are over the counter while others require a prescription. Commonly known names include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, among others.

Some patients have experienced heart attacks, cancer, bone fractures, and damage to their kidneys after using PPIs. Unfortunately, not all potential injuries were listed on the drugs’ labels, even though the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that pharmaceutical manufacturers list any drug’s potential side effects. Patients have sued the manufacturers for their injuries, and as a result, some have received multi-million dollar settlements.

PPI Lawsuits Related to Kidney Damage Increase

Recently, there has been an increase in lawsuits claiming that PPIs cause kidney damage and, in some cases, kidney failure. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits claim that drug manufacturers have known about the kidney risks since at least 2004, but failed to warn patients of the risks until 2014.

A 2017 study that looked at 125,000 PPI patients over five years revealed that PPIs could lead to “silent kidney damage.” Specifically, one of the study’s researchers, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly stated that “[k]idney problems can develop silently and gradually over time, eroding kidney function and leading to long-term kidney damage or even renal failure.” Certain patients developed Chronic Kidney Disease even though they never had any sign of kidney trouble before using PPIs.

Yet another study suggested that long-term PPI users were 95 percent more likely to develop kidney failure. Even so, there continues to be zero warning on PPI labels about potential kidney damage. Dr. Al-Aly recommends that patients tell their doctors if they are taking PPIs and “and only use the drugs when necessary.”

Status of PPI Kidney Lawsuits

As of today, there are nearly 5,000 PPI lawsuits pending in the Federal Court system, but so far, none of these cases have gone to trial. The vast majority are against the manufacturers of Nexium and Prilosec. A Boston drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a drug manufacturer.

In an effort to streamline the litigation, a panel of the federal judiciary recently combined PPI cases into a multi district litigation (MDL) in the Federal District Court of New Jersey.  Courts use this procedural tool to consolidate and streamline cases involving common facts and issues so that they can be resolved sooner. At the time the cases were consolidated in August, 2017, there were about 200. Now, that number has risen to almost 5,000. New cases may be added to the PPI MDL, regardless of where the patient resides.

The First Trial in the PPI Kidney Lawsuits has Been Scheduled

No PPI kidney case has yet gone to trial, but the first one is scheduled for September  21, 2020.  To date, there have been no significant settlements in any PPI-related kidney cases.  The results of the first substantial settlements will likely shape those in future cases, as both parties will get a sense of how effective their arguments are to a jury. A MA drug injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a drug manufacturer. Continue reading

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