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Vioxx

Vioxx

What is Vioxx?
 
 
Vioxx is the brand name of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that was produced by Merck Pharmaceuticals. The purpose of the drug was to treat osteoarthritis, acute pain and dysmenorrhoea. It existed on the market from 1999 until it was voluntarily withdrawn by Merck in 2004 in the wake of widespread reports that the drug was causing serious risk of increased heart attack and stroke.
 
 
Side effects
 
 
Beginning in 2001 a study known as the VIGOR study revealed evidence that Vioxx was 4 times as likely to cause heart attacks in users than those taking naproxen, another NSAID often marketed as Aleve.
 
 
Government Regulation
 
 
In the wake of the VIGOR study the FDA sent a warning letter to Merck's CEO informing him that the company should include in their warning labels that there is a 4 to 5 fold increase in myocardial infractions associated with the drug as compared to naproxen. In response Merck added a "black box" label to Vioxx containers stating the increased risk for heart attack and stroke. A "black box" label is the highest level of warning the FDA can require on drug labeling. It entails a black box printed on the label with the warning written within.
 
 
In 2004 Merck voluntarily removed Vioxx from the market after their APPROVE study showed patients had almost a two-fold chance of having a heart attack compared to those who took placebos. Later in 2004 the FDA released a report that estimated that the use of Vioxx caused approximately 88,000 to 140,000 heart attacks, 30% – 40% of which were probably fatal.
 
 
In 2008 information began to lead to the conclusion that Merck had known of the adverse side effects associated with Vioxx before the FDA got involved. Research during litigation discovery uncovered numerous documents showing that Merck engaged in a ghostwriting campaign to shield the truth about Vioxx. Of the 250 documents found it was discovered that Merck employees were responsible for the documents or the employees worked in collaboration in writing the documents.
 
 
Litigation
 
 
Litigation over Vioxx has resulted in Merck paying more than $4.8 billion in settlements concerning heart attacks, stroke and death associated with patients taking the medication. The internal company documents linking the company to a "ghostwriting" campaign were especially damning in showing Merck's knowledge of the conditions and failure to remove the product from the market. In addition, Merck has been order to pay $58 million to the states and the District of Columbia as part of a multistate consumer protection settlement, the largest in U.S. history.
 
 
What to do if you took Vioxx?
 
 
If you or someone you know has taken Vioxx as part of treatment for osteoarthritis, dysmenorrhoea, or acute pain and suffered heart attack, stroke, or death it is important that you see an attorney immediately. The word is out on Vioxx and if the drug is linked to your condition then it you should be entitled to money damages. The statute of limitations for Vioxx injury lawsuits is running so don't sit on your rights.

Ambien

Ambien

What is Ambien?
 
 
Ambien, also known as Zolpidem, is a pharmaceutical product manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals. The drug is designated as a prescription drug to aid sleep disorder patients. Ambien is used to cure short term insomnia; the drug is designated to be used for only 2 to 6 weeks.  Studies have shown that Ambien does not actually help patients improve their actual sleep. Rather it has been found that it is only beneficial in helping the patient initially fall asleep.
 
 
Are There Side Effects Associated With Ambien?
 
 
Side effects from the use of Ambien include Nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, delusions, and euphoria.  Studies have shown that individuals who take Ambien and then wake up before the designated 7-8 hour recommended sleep time have a high change of short term amnesia.
 
 
One of the most publicized effects of Ambien use is sleepwalking. Cases of sleepwalking, sleep eating, driving and performing other daily activities. Often times someone who has Ambien induced sleepwalking will appear as if they are totally coherent. There have been a number of incidents involved with Ambien induced sleepwalking. As of right now it is unclear whether these incidents of sleepwalking are the direct result of Ambien use.
 
 
Lawsuits
 
 
In 2006 there was a major class action initiated against Sanofi-Aventis. The suit stems from the use of Ambien and resulting injuries related to sleepwalking. The class action, which involves 500 plaintiffs inlcude numerous allegations about the drug. Sleep eating, arrests for DUI, and even suicide. The lawsuit is based on a products liability action for failure to warn of the side effects. Sanofi Aventis maintains that the warning label is adequate in that it states that there is a 4% chance of sleep walking amongst Ambien consumers.

Aredia

Aredia

What is Aredia?
 
 
Aredia, also known as Pamidronate, is used to treat high levels of calcium in the blood that are associated with certain types of cancer and osteopersosis. It is also used to treat bone damage caused by myeloma or breast cancer. It is taken intravenously on a monthly schedule, often for the life of the patient. Aredia is a pharmaceutical product manufactured by Novartis. 
 
 
Are There Side Effects Associated With Aredia?
 
 
Common side effects associated with Aredia are bone pain, nausea, dizziness, low calcium levels and on rare occassions Osteonecrosis of the jaw. Osteonecrosis of the jaw involves the development of disease of the mandible and maxilla. Often this can result in the removal of the affected bone. As studies are becoming more conclusive, it is being found that many biophosphonates, like Aredia, are the cause of the disease Lawsuits
 
 
As in many other pharmaceutical related lawsuits, the focus in primarily on products liability for failure to warn. As of 2010 there were 500 federal lawsuits pending and 150 pending in the state of New Jersey alone. Of the two that are conlcusive at this time the results are mixed. A Montana case accusing Aredia manufacturer, Novartis, of failing to give adequate warnings as to the risk of serious jaw injury found for the plaintiff and awarded her $3.2 million. On the other side of the country a jury found for the defendant, Novartis, and concluded that the defendant gave adequate warnings to her physician. Most recently Novartis was ordered to pay $12.8 million to a North Carolina woman who suffered severe damage to her maxilla and mandible after taking Aredia. 
 
 
What do I do if I have symptoms?
 
 
The symptoms associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw include pain in the effected area and which can also progress to where there is difficulty chewing. Most often osteonecrosis has progressed far enough by the time it is diagnoseable. If you have been treated with Aredia or Zometa for cancer therapy or osteoperosis and have pain in your jaw that is continuous and seems to be getting worse you may have a case against Novartis for failure to give appropriate warnings. You should contact an attorney who specializes in pharmaceutical lawsuits and class actions immediately.

Avandia

Avandia

What is Avandia?
 
 
Avandia, or its generic name Rosiglitazone, is an antidiabetic drug produced by GlaxoSmithKline. The purpose behind Avandia is to make fat cells more responsive to insulin by binding to fat cells in the body.
 
 
What Are The Side Effects?
 
 
SIde effects associated with Avandia include stroke, heart attack, hepatotoxicity, eye damage and bone fractures. The FDA has linked 83,000 heart attacks to the use of Avandia and it is believed that the use of Avandia for treatment of type-2 diabetes has led to an increase in heart disease of 43% compared to those who did not take Avandia. The chances of having a stroke increase by 27% when a patient is taking Avandia.
 
 
Avandia has also been linked to an increase in the incidence of bone fracture of the upper arms in female patients. It has also been found to cause macular adema, which causes partial blindness and in some cases individuals have been diagnosed with hepatitis from their continous use of Avandia.
 
 
Government Regulation
 
 
In the United States Avandia has become a point of government regulation over the increased threat of heart disease. During investigations of GlaxoSmithKline about the adverse effects of Avandia it was found that as early 2000 there were signs that Avandia was unsafe but GlaxoSmithKline attempted to cover up the problem. In addition, it was found that the company initiated a campaign where they paid outside scientists to write positive articles about the drug in the appropriate medical journals. There have been numerous attempts by members of Congress and the FDA to have the product removed from the market entirely but no measure has yet passed. Currently the FDA is contemplating the removal of Avandia from the market. There has been no result yet.
 
 
Lawsuits
 
 
There are currently somewhere along 13,000 suits involving Avandia and GlaxoSmithKline relating to side effects, specifically heart disease. One of the lawsuits settled in July 2010 involving 10,000 plaintiffs was settled for $460 million. Currently the estimates for total awards is between $2 billion and $6 billion in damages.
 
 
What if I have taken Avandia?
 
 
If you or someone you know has taken Avandia and developed heart disease, stroke or any other serious conditions associated with Avandia's side effects it is important that you go see a physician as soon as possible. Upon a physicians suggestion that the condition can be linked to Avandia it is then your job to consult an attorney who specializes in class action lawsuits involving pharmaceuticals. Be wary of the statute of limitations. Because the statute of limitations usually begins to run once you should have known about symptoms your clock may already be running. See an attorney quickly.

Fosamax

Fosamax

What is Fosamax?
 
 
Fosamax is the brand name for Alendronic acid, marketed by the Merck Corporation for the treatment of bone loss. A variant of the drug containing Vitamin D is marketed as Fosamax+D. Fosamax works by inhibiting the process that allows for bone loss and works to rebuild the bones. As a result, fractures from weakened bones decrease significantly. Patients low in calcium will need to achieve adequate levels of calcium before starting a Fosamax regimen. This medication remains in the body for a number of years so caution must be taken for women hat may become pregnant.
 
 
What are the dangers of Fosamax?
 
 
Fosamax is administered orally and can be potential dangerous if taken improperly. Fosamax needs to be taken 30 minutes before eating and the patient must remain upright for the entire time to prevent damage to the esophagus. Through regular use, a rare condition called Osteonecrosis may occur in the maxilla and mandible where legions form as a result of cancer treatment or dental work performed during exposure to biophospahates such as Fosamax. Osteonecrosis, purported to be caused by Fosamax is the subject of litigation against Merck. Similarly, the nature of Alendronic acid may cause ulcers in the esophagus and eventual esophageal cancer.
 
 
Rare cases of low impact fractures have occurred with long terms users of Fosamax as the drug inhibits the process that repairs the thigh bone, rendering it brittle. This may happen in people already suffering from osteoporosis. These fractures spurred and FDA warning in October 2010.
 
 
How does one receive damages for injury related to Fosamax?
 
 
Attorneys specialize in the two most troubling side effects of Fosamax use. The new dangers discovered by brittle thigh bones have spurred an increase in Fosamax related lawsuits. As Merck did not adequately warn of the potential dangers of Fosamax treatment, you may be eligible for compensation as a result of Fosamax induced fractures. While the issue of osteonecrosis and Fosamax’s role in its development has been debated, damages can be won if a conclusive link can be drawn between the exposure to biophospahates and the bone decay. As Fosamax has also been linked to esophageal cancer, some attorneys have won settlements for medical expenses, loss of wages and pain and suffering damages.
 
 
Doctors are also responsible for the prescription of Fosamax and have a duty to assess risk factors and inform and monitor the progress of the patient while on the medication. If a doctor prescribes Fosamax inappropriately and that results in harm to the patient, then that doctor is also liable for damages. As with many medications, Fosamax can cause birth defects in expectant mothers and should never be prescribed for women who are pregnant.
 
 

Gleevec

Gleevec

What is Gleevec?
 
 
Gleevec is the brand name for Imatinib, a drug currently marketed by Novartis for the treatment of leukemia and other forms of cancer. Unlike chemotherapy, Gleevec does not kill all cells in a targeted area but inhibits a specific enzyme which prevents cancer cells from growing. This drug is often the first drug prescribed to control leukemia. Gleevec is taken orally and is processed by the liver. Additional experimentation is ongoing to test if Gleevec can help treat pulmonary hypertension. 
 
 
What are the side effects of Gleevec?
 
 
Weight gain, pain, and nausea are common as well as a much more uncommon case of congestive cardiac failure. Some tests show that large doses of Gleevec can damage the myocardium of the heart.  Pregnant women should not take this medication as there is a chance it will result in birth defects. More recently, patients on Gleevic have reported having hearing loss to the FDA. Lastly, Gleevec may cause unpredicted interactions with other medications as it disrupts the natural functioning of enzymes that process medication leading to potentially higher or lower than expected levels of other drugs in a patient’s system. 
 
 
Are generic forms of Gleevec available?
 
 
At this time, the cost of a year’s treatment with Gleevec can range from $32,000 to $98,000 a year with individual pills costing around $20 – 30 dollars. Efforts to manufacture a generic version in India were met by a Novartis lawsuit that had to be taken before the World Trade Organization. 
 
 
What can I do if I experience damage from taking Gleevec?
 
 
Although instances of hearing loss are rare, there is a chance that more instances of hearing loss will come to light in the future. Individuals that experience can pursue litigation to secure damages for medical bills, loss of wages and pain and anguish. Evidence exists that Gleevec can damage the heart, so this should be taken into account when considering your legal options. Most importantly, liability rests with the doctor to monitor side effects while taking this drug and inform the patient of the potential risks. Side effects are common with this drug and failure to inform the patient thusly may represent a breach of professionalism on the part of the doctor.
 
 

Diclofenac

Diclofenac

What is Diclofenac?
 
 
Diclofenac is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used to reduce pain, usually in cancer patients and arthritic individuals. The most common form is 2 – 4 times a day capsules but it may also be administered in IV or suppository forms. Diclofenac is an inhibitor that stops the body from producing substances that cause pain and inflammation. The medication must be ingested as per pharmacist instructions, usually around the same times every day.
 
 
What names are Diclofenac marketed under?
 
 
Brand names for Diclofenac include Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren, Voltarol and Zipsor.
 
 
What are risk factors for NSAID drugs such as Diclofenac?
 
 
Drugs such as Diclofenac increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke so your doctor must be made aware of these conditions before prescribing this medication. Additionally, ulcers and bleeding may occur through the course of taking this medication. Due vigilance is required on this medicine as the side effects may be severe or fatal for those with risks of heart disease or internal bleeding. Patients recovering from heart surgery should not use this drug.
 
 
Like many medications, taking Diclofenac during pregnancy may cause birth defects. It is important to disclose all risk factors to a doctor before taking Diclofenac as well as keep all appointments so that the doctor can monitor and decide if changes to the dosage are necessary.
 
 
Additionally, there are common side effects such as, weight gain, loss of appetite, headaches and itching.
 
 
What should I do if I was improperly prescribed Diclofenac?
 
 
Although the patient must inform the doctor of all relevant risk factors, if possible before taking any medication, it is ultimately the responsibility of the doctor to ensure that the patient has no glaring risk factors that would put them at risk for serious side effects. That being said, if you have experienced serious side effects and the doctor neglected to check your medical history or inform you of potential side effects, then you may be able to make the case that the doctor is negligent and you are entitled to damages that cover medical expenses, lost wages as well as pain and suffering. An attorney will be best able to guide you through the legal process and determine liability.
 
 

Effexor

Effexor

What is Effexor?
 
 
Effexor is the brand name of antidepressant venlafaxine belonging to the selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRI) that allows the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine to slow down and build up enabling the body’s neurons to fire properly. The lack of these neurotransmitters affects the ability of the neurons to work properly which is one of the causes of depression. The effect of this drug on the transmitters depends on the dosage, with small doses working only on serotonin.
 
 
A lack of serotonin at low levels can cause bulimia and panic but at even lower levels will lead to OCD and depression.
 
 
What are side effects of drugs such as Effexor?
 
 
The most common side effects, loss of sleep, appetite and weight are not serious and diminish quickly.  However there are more moderate scale there are side effects such as drowsiness, fatigue, nausea and sexual dysfunction.
 
 
On a more serious scale, the FDA issued a “black box warning” about a suicide risk while taking this drug. While this link has not been proven among the normal population, it may exacerbate conditions for those that already have a suicide risk.
 
 
Additionally, SSNRI drugs cultivate dependency which may lead to a discontinuation syndrome. Effexor was a high risk of this due to a “short half-life” which caused patients to experience withdrawal symptoms as early as three days after starting treatment. Doctors frequently have to prescribe smaller doses of SSRI drugs to suppress the effects of discontinuation syndrome. Dependency on anti-depressant medication is gradually gaining acceptance as a serious issue, although many doctors prescribing the drugs may not be initially aware of the potential dangers of putting patients on Effexor.
 
 
What is serotonin toxicity?
 
 
Too much serotonin in the body is harmful to one’s health. Serotonin toxicity can result as result of mixing SSRI medication with other drugs. The increase of serotonin can initially cause anxiety, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and gastrointestinal disturbances. At higher levels, there is the risk of “serotonin syndrome” which causes fever, tremors, coma, seizures and death. At the higher levels of serotonin toxicity there may also be heart damage, but this link has not yet been proven.
 
 
What are the potential effects on pregnant women?
 
 
The FDA has issued a blanket warning against the use of anti-depressants in the third trimester of pregnancy as there is an elevated risk of birth defects on the fetus. There is also an elevated chance of a miscarriage while taking Effexor for pregnant women.
 
 
What should I do if have been improperly prescribed Effexor?
 
 
If you can prove that your doctor was negligent in prescribing you Effexor, you may be entitled to damages for medical expenses, lost wages and emotional anguish. It is the doctor’s responsibility to ascertain health risks before prescribing medication, so allowing the patient to take drug combinations that lead to serotonin syndrome or prescribing Effexor to pregnant women are some examples of how a doctor can be negligent in this case.

Evista

Evista

What is Evista?
 
 
Evista is the brand name of Raloxifene that is used to treat osteoporosis (loss of bone density) in menopausal women. It is taken once a day and tricks the body into believing there are increased levels of estrogen, a hormone that is essential to ensure bone thickness in women. Additionally, Evista can decrease the risk of developing invasive breast cancer. What are some dangers associated with Evista?
 
 
There is an increased risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis for women taking Evista so this medication should not be prescribed to patients at high risk for these events. There is also an increased risk for ovarian cancer that the Cancer Prevention Coalition accused manufacturer Eli Lily of concealing from the general public. 
 
 
Has Evista been marketed improperly?
 
 
The US Department of Justice fined Eli Lilly in excess of 36 million dollars in criminal and civil penalties for marketing Evista for unapproved uses such as cancer prevention and heart disease reduction. Evista has originally been marketed and approved as an osteoporosis drug and has only recently gained approval for the treatment of cancer. Prior to that, Eli Lily lobbied doctors to prescribe the drug for unapproved uses to boost its sales. This led to a lawsuit by pharmaceutical rival Zenaca that complained that their approve cancer medication was being undercut by the unapproved use of Evista. Eli Lily has since been dogged by complaints of improper and unapproved claims. 
 
 
What should I do if I have experienced severe side effects from taking Evista?
 
 
Although Evista has finally gained approval for some uses of the drug that that they had been marketing for years they may still be held liable for damages due to intentional suppression of risks associated with the drug and unapproved claims about the potential uses of the drug. Doctors too, may have collaborated with Eli Lilly to irresponsibly prescribe the drug without regard for its potentially lethal side effects for women at danger for blood clots and stroke. An attorney can help you determine potential liability and your best course of action. There are potential class-action lawsuits that you may be to join.

Fluvoxamine

Fluvoxamine

What is Fluvoxamine?
 
 
Fluvoxamine, known by its brand name as Luvox is an SSRI anti-depression drug produced by Solvay Pharmaceuticals that is used primarily to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety.  SSRI stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a class of medication that increases the amount of serotonin in the body to impulsive neurological impulses and alters brain chemistry to make the patient experience a feeling of well being. The medication is taken in capsule or extended release form, once or twice a day, may be slow acting but also may become habit forming. Those that stop Fluvoxamine abruptly may enter withdrawal symptoms, so any doctors gradually reduce rather than terminate dosage. 
 
 
What are the side effects of Fluvoxamine?
 
 
As with most SSRI medicines, altering brain chemistry may produce a number of side effects including pain, dizziness, nausea and sexual side effects. Fluvoxamine is especially potent when compared to other SSRI drugs and like other SSRIs may induce thoughts of suicide in individuals under 24 for preexisting suicide risks. Generally speaking, it is very risky to give any SSRI to children, due to the increased thoughts of suicide. Pregnant women especially should not take Luvox as it increases the risk of birth defects in the fetus. 
 
 
Why are Fluvoxamine and Luvox controversial?
 
 
In the aftermath of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, it was revealed that one of the two shooters had been taking Fluvoxamine and it may have contributed to his actions. In response, the medication was withdrawn from the US in 2002. Since then it has reentered the US in both controlled release and generic forms. It did not come to light until recently that SSRIs such as Luvox could potentially cause birth defects. Warning labels were added a few years ago, but prior to that, there was not much indication from Solvay Pharmaceuticals of the potential danger. 
 
 
What should I do if I have been harmed by taking Fluvoxamine?
 
 
The most common lawsuit against Solvay Pharmaceuticals regarding Fluvoxamine has been over birth defects. Luvox has been found to cause development delays and respiratory problems in newborns as well as other problems that may manifest as the child gets older. An attorney can help hold the pharmaceutical company liable for negligence in failing to inform doctors and the general public about the dangers of taking an SSRI in the third trimester. Doctors too, that have not heeded recent warnings about SSRI medication and prescribed Fluvoxamine to expectant mothers have also been negligent for failing to consider the potential harm to the child.