Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Articles Posted in Dangerous Drugs

A Philadelphia woman was awarded nearly $28 million for injuries she suffered while taking the anti-coagulant medication, Xarelto. The blood thinner, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and Bayer AG, is linked to serious health risks, including excessive bleeding and death.

Lynn Hartman claims to have been taking Xarelto for more than a year when she was hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding. J&J and Bayer were ordered to pay $1.8 million in actual damages, and another $26 million for punitive damages. More than 20,000 Xarelto lawsuits are still pending against the companies.

J&J and Bayer recently won three Xarelto cases, after juries determined that the companies had provided adequate warnings about the drug’s risk of excessive bleeding. These wins were actually a victory for plaintiffs in other cases, however, including Hartman’s.

“The plaintiffs needed to put a win on the board to keep these other cases alive,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at Virginia’s University of Richmond. “Otherwise, the rest of the cases may have been seen as having little value.” A MA drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous drug.

Xarelto Lawsuits Up 27 Percent this Year

The pharmaceutical giants say they will appeal the verdict in Hartman’s case, claiming that their product’s labeling “has always warned of bleeding events.” According to J&J, Xarelto lawsuits increased by 27 percent in 2017.

“Bayer stands behind the safety and efficacy of Xarelto and believes there is no basis in fact or law for the verdict, including the punitive award,” said Bayer spokesman Chris Loder, in a recent statement.

According to the FDA, Xarelto has been linked to at least 370 deaths and thousands of serious injuries. Yet the drug, which is Bayer’s number one-selling product, remains on the market. In fact, Xarelto sales generated about $3.2 billion last year. A Boston drug injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous drug.

Why is Xarelto So Dangerous?

Xarelto belongs to a new class of blood thinners that have been hailed as lower-maintenance alternatives to their predecessor Coumadin. All blood thinners carry a risk of excessive bleeding, but Coumadin has an antidote to stop the bleeding. Xarelto, unfortunately, does not.

According to 75-year-old Hartman, she required four blood transfusions to treat the effects of blood loss she experienced while on Xarelto. During her trial, former FDA Chief David Kessler, argued that the drug’s warning labels understate associated bleeding risks, as well as failed to warn physicians that certain patients may have a higher risk of excessive bleeding.

Symptoms of Xarelto Complications

If you are currently taking Xarelto and develop any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Unexpected or uncontrolled bleeding
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting blood
  • Black or bright red stool
  • Headaches that don’t go away
  • Dizziness
  • Wounds that don’t heal properly

Continue reading

Have you ever had a surgery to correct a hernia? Chances are, if you had such a surgery in the last ten years you were fitted with some type of hernia mesh to help the repaired hernia heal. Hernia mesh can be made from synthetic materials or animal tissue, and is placed inside the body to support a healing hernia.

Statistically, the use of hernia mesh to help aid in the recovery of hernias does decrease the likelihood of future complications in the area of the hernia, and decreases the risk of needing any follow-up surgeries.

Unfortunately, not all hernia mesh products are equivalent, and some have been outright recalled due to problematic and potentially life-threatening complications that they create. The following hernia mesh products have been officially recalled.

Ethicon – a subsidiary company of Johnson & Johnson

  • Proceed (FDA approval in 2003, recalled in 2006, 2011 and 2014)
  • Physiomesh (FDA approval in 2010, withdrawn from sales by company in June, 2016)

Atrium Medical Corporation of Maquet Getinge Group

  • C-QUR surgical mesh (gained FDA approval in 2006, recalled in 2013)

Bard Davol, a subsidiary company of C.R. Bard

  • Kugel
  • 3DMax
  • Perfix
  • Sepramesh

Ethicon’s ‘Physiomesh’ product is the most recent large-scale recall of hernia mesh, and occurred in 2016. The mesh is made from a chemical compound called polypropylene, which can be incredibly dangerous should it come into contact with human tissue because of its tendency to “stick” to the tissue; opening up a whole host of potential complications depending on where the mesh is placed within the body.

Physiomesh was coated in multiple other materials to prevent contact between the polypropylene and the inside of the human body, however the decision to pull the product from the market indicates that there were too many people experiencing the complications to continue to push the mesh on the market.

C.R. Bard’s products resulted in three Class 1 recalls (potentially life-threatening) between 2005 and 2007. Complications included fistulas and perforation of bowels.

No matter what the product, there is always a risk that the mesh will not perform its duties entirely correctly and will require a second, or more, surgery to correct the complication. Hernia mesh can also cause a number of other side effects, including:

  • Pain and bleeding
  • Adhesions (scar tissue that sticks together)
  • Seroma (a buildup of fluid at the site of incision)
  • Nerve damage
  • Infections
  • Shrinking/migrating/compromised mesh
  • Bowel and intestinal blockage
  • Autoimmune reactions/mesh rejection
  • Reoccurrence of hernia
  • Fistulas (irregular points of connection between separate organs)
  • Organ tears and perforations

Should any of these complications occur to you or a loved one, you may be entitled to significant compensation for the pain that you’ve endured and the expenses you have incurred as a result of the faulty medical procedure. There are thousands of ongoing hernia mesh lawsuits happening today, and you may be able to recover damages for your own experience.

When you go to the hospital to receive surgery, you should feel comfortable that a procedure will not lead to further complications down the line due to a faulty product, such as some of these hernia mesh products have been revealed to be. Continue reading

What is a hernia?

The use of surgical hernia mesh is the one of the most commonly-utilized medical devices used to repair hernias – which occur when a muscle or organ protrudes through another piece of muscle or connective tissue due to increased amounts of pressure in the area of the body where the hernia occurs.

There are six common forms of hernia, and they can occur throughout different areas of the body; from hernias that erupt through a surgical scar to hernias that occur near the belly button. Hernias can happen to anybody, from those who are chronically obese to Olympic athletes and can occur regardless of age or gender.

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been ordered by a Texas federal jury to pay out over $1 billion in punitive and compensatory damages after a lengthy trial ultimately decided in the favor of six plaintiffs who claimed to have suffered severe consequences after being fitted with J&J’s “Pinnacle” hip implants, which are manufactured and distributed by Depuy Pharmaceuticals.  The Pinnacle hip implants are a type of implant that utilizes metal-on-metal components, meaning the artificial hip ball, socket and shaft pieces are all made of metal; usually a combination of titanium, nickel, cobalt and/or chromium. In many cases before, including about 93,000 different hip implants also distributed by Depuy and J&J, the metal-on-metal implants have been observed to cause serious health consequences for some users.

Why are these hip implants potentially dangerous?

Metal-on-metal hip implants have been observed to corrode over time and use, releasing microscopic pieces of metal into the patient’s blood stream, which can cause a type of blood poisoning known as metallosis.

Signs of metallosis can include:

  • General skin hypersensitivity that results in rashes
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart complications)
  • Sensory changes such as complications with vision or hearing
  • Depression or other unusual mental changes
  • Kidney complications
  • Thyroid issues such as a throbbing, painful neck, weight gain, fatigue or feeling cold constantly

Aside from these symptoms, the implants can degrade to a point where they can actually break, slip or otherwise malfunction, causing potentially horrible consequences. The plaintiffs in this case also specifically cite suffering from bone and tissue death as a result of the implants.

What if I have a metal-on-metal hip implant?

If you or somebody you love has received a metal-on-metal hip implant from any of these companies:

  • Depuy
  • Stryker
  • Smith & Newphew
  • OMNI
  • Biomet

Then do some research into the type of hip implant was given. It may very well be one of the hip implants that has been subsequently recalled, and may explain health problems that have emerged after the hip installation.  In the case of J&J and their most recent legal scandal, they plan to appeal the decision and maintain that they are not liable for the pain and suffering their devices have caused. The jury disagreed, and felt that J&J and Depuy did not do enough to warn patients of any potential risks associated with the hip implants. Although the enormous sum of over $1 billion will likely be reduced by the courts, the message to the huge companies is clear: you are not untouchable.

At Altman & Altman LLP, we feel the same way. No company, regardless of how big or how valuable, is above the law or above the moral standards and ethics that all medical device manufacturers, distributors and parent companies must adhere to. The responsibility to properly protect patients is far too great to accept anything less than perfection.  J&J and Depuy’s lengthy list of lawsuits proves that something is not right with these implants. This case was just one of over 8,000 similar lawsuits surrounding the hip implants, meaning this is not an anomalous problem, but more likely a design flaw which, again, is simply unacceptable. Continue reading

Another jury has concluded that talcum powder does, indeed, cause ovarian cancer. This multimillion-dollar verdict is the third of its kind for Johnson & Johnson this year. Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California, was awarded more than $70 million last week, as a result of her 2012 ovarian cancer diagnosis. According to Giannecchini, she had been using Johnson’s Baby Powder for more than four decades.

Many women have used talc-based products, such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, for personal hygiene for decades. Talcum powder contains particles of talc, a mineral that can cause health complications when used in the genital area. Talc particles can travel through the fallopian tubes and become embedded in the ovaries. When this happens, the talc particles can cause inflammation, which can result in the development of cancerous cells. All cancer can be deadly, but ovarian cancer has an especially high mortality rate. If you have developed cancer after using talcum powder or baby powder, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today.

What is Ovarian Cancer?

One of the most aggressive forms of cancer, ovarian cancer causes about 14,000 deaths every year. Symptoms are hard to detect, and often don’t appear until the disease has advanced beyond successful treatment. As with most cancers, once ovarian cancer has spread to other organs and tissues, it is extremely difficult to treat.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

As previously mentioned, symptoms are not often immediately apparent. Furthermore, the following symptoms can be related to other, non-life threatening medical conditions. However, if you develop any of the below symptoms, it may be wise to contact your health care provider. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Feeling full even though you haven’t eaten much
  • Back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Constipation
  • Chronic indigestion
  • Menstrual problems
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Fatigue

Despite compelling evidence that long-term use of talcum powder causes ovarian cancer, J&J continues to claim that its product is safe and is currently appealing all three rulings. But the manufacturing giant is estimated to face another 2,000 lawsuits from customers who developed ovarian cancer after using its products. Continue reading

Johnson & Johnson is under fire again, only months after the company was ordered to pay $72 million to the family of a woman who died after using its talcum-powder based products. Studies have shown a link between ovarian cancer and the use of talcum powder, specifically in the genital area. The newest claimant is a Los Angeles man by the name of Soren Threadgill who filed a wrongful death claim following his wife’s death from ovarian cancer. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

Several pending lawsuits claim that Johnson & Johnson knew about the cancer risk but failed to warn consumers or stop marketing its talcum-powder based products. More than 1,000 lawsuits have been filed against the company, and more are likely to follow. Threadgill claims that his wife used Johnson & Johnson products, such as Shower to Shower, for 25 years. In 1998, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and she succumbed to the disease in 2012.

Johnson & Johnson May Have Known About the Cancer Risk for More than 20 Years

According to Threadgill’s filing, Johnson & Johnson was notified of the “serious risk of ovarian cancer” by the Cancer Prevention Coalition in 1994. Furthermore, an internal memo from a medical consultant for Johnson & Johnson said “anybody who denies” the risk is “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.” This internal memo was released in 1997, one year before Threadgill’s wife was diagnosed with cancer.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (ARC), the use of talcum powder-based products in the genital area is classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

As of today, Johnson & Johnson hasn’t responded to Threadgill’s lawsuit.

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

If you develop any of these symptoms after using talc-based products, contact your health care provider immediately.

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding not associated with a menstrual period
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Back pain
  • Excessive bloating
  • A feeling of fullness while eating
  • Excessive / urgent urination
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Any of the above symptoms can be caused by multiple health conditions, many of them not serious. However, if you are concerned about medical problems, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have several of these symptoms, or if any of the symptoms last longer than two weeks, see your doctor right away. Time is of the essence. Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, but when detected early, the survival rate is significantly higher. Continue reading

Yaz, a popular and aggressively marketed oral contraceptive sold by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceutical, Inc., is linked to thousands of injuries and deaths. The once-a-day birth control pill may cause several potentially life-threatening side effects, including heart attack, pulmonary embolism, and even sudden death. More than 16,000 lawsuits have been filed, and Bayer has already spent approximately $1.75 billion to settle almost 9,000 claims. Despite the dangers, Yaz remains one of the most widely used birth control pills on the market. Contact a Boston Drug Injury Attorney Today.

The Hormone Drospirenone May be the Culprit

Following FDA approval in 2006, Yaz quickly became popular as a safe birth control alternative that treated undesirable menstrual symptoms such as PMS, acne, bloating, and even more serious emotional symptoms. Yaz is part of a group of newer contraceptive treatments that include the hormone drospirenone, a type of progestin that affects the uterus lining. Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella are the only three contraceptives on the market today that include drospirenone, which may be the main cause of serious side effects. It can lead to a condition known as hyperkalemia, which is an increase in the levels of blood potassium. Especially in individuals with pre-existing liver, kidney, or adrenal disease, hyperkalemia can be extremely dangerous. To date, an estimated 100 million women have been prescribed these drugs.

Yaz is linked to multiple serious side effects. These include:
Continue reading

Talcum powder has been used for feminine hygiene, and as a baby care product, for decades. Its name comes from the mineral from which it is derived; talc is composed of silicon, magnesium, and oxygen. Talcum powder is popular for its ability to absorb moisture and reduce friction, which prevents rashes and other types of skin irritation. In addition to being used on its own, talcum powder is also found in many cosmetic products, baby powders, and other consumer goods. Unfortunately, talcum powder has been linked to ovarian cancer in women, and lawsuits are on the rise. Most disconcerting is the evidence that one of the major manufacturers of talcum powder, Johnson & Johnson, knew about the risks since 1982 or earlier. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

How Could Talcum Powder Cause Cancer?

When women use talcum powder in the genital area, it is believed that particles of the mineral talc may travel through the reproductive tract, entering the ovaries. These particles may cause inflammation of the ovarian tissue which may result in the development of cancerous tumors. Multiple studies have shown women that use talcum powder in the genital area are at a much greater risk of developing cancer than those who have not. In fact, the first study revealing this link was published in 1971. Researchers found that talc particles remained “deeply embedded” in ovarian and cervical tumors in women who had used talcum powder in the genital area. This study encouraged more research, which resulted in similar outcomes. A 2003 article published in the International Journal of Cancer Research and Treatment reported that talcum powder use increases the risk of developing ovarian cancer by 33%.

In natural form, many talcs contain asbestos, which can cause cancer when inhaled. However, talc products have been asbestos-free for more than four decades. The risk of ovarian cancer is not linked to inhalation, but rather to the potential for talc particles to travel through the vagina, and into the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. This can occur if talcum powder is used in the genital area, applied to sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, or diaphragms. Continue reading

Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters were created to treat patients with a high risk of pulmonary embolism, a life-threatening condition. In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved C.R. Bard’s Recovery IVC filter. Many patients use anticoagulants (blood-thinners) to treat their risk of pulmonary embolism, but some patients are unable to take these drugs. The IVC filters were designed to provide a treatment option for these patients. The filter is implanted into the inferior vena cava and prevents embolism by catching blood clots before they can pass into the lungs. Unfortunately, shortly after the Recovery filter’s release, problems started to emerge. Over time, pieces of the filter may begin breaking off, resulting in serious injury and even death. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

Most Common IVC Filter Injuries

Bard IVC filters are linked to multiple injuries and fatalities. Injuries range in severity and cause, but the most common include:

Severe pain

Internal bleeding

Perforations in blood vessels, tissue, and organ

Respiratory problem

Pulmonary embolism

Heart attack

Deep vein thrombosis

Death Continue reading

Hip replacements are one of the most common surgeries in the United States. Degenerative conditions and injuries can result in debilitating pain. Fortunately for thousands of patients, hip replacement surgery provides welcome relief and the ability to resume normal activity. As with all medical technology, the hip replacement industry has evolved over the years in an effort to provide increasingly effective products. In doing so, manufacturers began moving away from plastic and ceramic replacements in favor of all-metal designs, which they claimed were more flexible and durable. Unfortunately, the metal devices have been linked to incapacitating injuries, and the industry is facing lawsuits in the tens of thousands. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer.

First Jury Award Over $8.3 Million

The first manufacturer to pull out of the all-metal business is the DePuy division of Johnson & Johnson. However, they are not likely to be the last. According to the New York Times, all other manufacturers are expected to follow as the early failure rates are staggeringly high. Johnson & Johnson alone is facing at least 13,300 lawsuits. In addition, recent awards to victims of the metal replacements have been high, with the first jury award being in excess of $8.3 million. This case was quickly decided in favor of the victim and will likely set the bar for future lawsuits. Although an industry exit is good news for future hip replacement patients, it does little to help the thousands of people already implanted with the metal design.

Is the FDA’s Antiquated Approval Process to Blame?

The FDA’s approval process for metal hip replacements may be partially to blame for the early failure rate and injuries. Hip replacements are not considered ‘essential medical devices’ and are therefore subject to a markedly less stringent approval process. Essential devices, such as artificial hearts for example, require significant tests including human testing. Metal hip replacements went to market without a single human test. Continue reading