Archive for September 2011

Orca Whale Kills Third Sea World Trainer

September 22, 2011

(September 22, 2011) On Monday, February 24, 2010, a 12,000 pound orca whale, Tilikum, attacked his trainer, Dawn Branchau, causing her to drown in front of a live audience at Sea World in Orlando, Florida.   This was Tilikum’s third time being involved in a death.  WHY WAS THIS MAMMAL STILL PERFORMING?  Experts have posed asked if it was human error or whether a killer whale could choose to kill? Pretty eerie to think about yourself, isn’t it?


On August 23, 2011, the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) issued citations to Sea World for placing profit above employee safety.  OSHA fined Sea World $75,000 for safety violations including a maximum of $70,000 in penalty for “willful” act of knowingly placing its employees at risk.  Following these citations, the family of Dawn Branchau; terminated employees; and witnesses also filed legal action.


The most crucial evidence presented was the fact that other trainers have been killed and injured prior to Dawn’s tragic death.  This tragedy could have – and should have – been prevented!!! What insurance company would want to insure Sea World against the next unfortunate disaster?  When will the next tragedy occur?  All this negative publicity is very damaging to Sea World.  OSHA accused Sea World of showing indifference or disregard to employee’s safety after a whale killed Dawn Branchau in Orlando last year.  OSHA contends that Sea World did not properly document all the incidents of aggression shown by it’s whales.  Two of the other trainers who testified have requested to stop working with whales and were transferred to the park’s otter show. I bet they’re glad they will no longer have a “whale” of a time!


The debate is ongoing regarding use of these 12,000 pound, highly-intelligent, highly-social beings, and keeping them in captivity strictly for entertainment and money-making purposes.  Since this tragic accident, several former Sea World employees have come forward speaking about working with orcas and the secrecy within the mammal entertainment business.  In the past year since this tragedy, Tilikum has been kept in isoloation, which may directly affect his well-being.


Orca project director Colleen Gorman started a petition on for Sea World to stop pressuring OSHA to have closed hearings.   Judge Welsh decided not to show and sensationalize Branchau’s death, in accordance with her families desires.  Dolphin activists urged the Department of Labor to keep the trial open not only to ensure justice for Dawn Branchau, but also to expose the reality of conditions in Sea World. More than 3,300 members joined the protest against closed hearings.  Sea World’s order was NOT granted.


How many more deaths will it take before SeaWorld realizes that these beautiful, enormous mammals do not enjoy being confined to a swimming pool? Considering the fact that there were three (3) prior deaths in which Tilikum was involved PRIOR to Dawn’s death, why was Tilikum allowed the opportunity to take another life?


We’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you think Tilikum should be kept in confinement? Should it be put down? Released back into the ocean? Leave comments on this blogpost, or our Facebook and Twitter pages. Feel free to stop by our website or contact one of our attorneys at 1-800-246-4878.


Side Effects of Victoza and Byetta—Pancreatitis…Cancer??

September 17, 2011

(September 17, 2011) Careful review was done on two popular, long-lasting diabetes drugs, Byetta and the newest kid on the block, Victoza, after recent data warned prolonged use might find diabetics more susceptible to pancreatitis and thyroid cancer.


This week the European Association for the Study of Diabetes will meet in Portugal to discuss the potential dangers of Byetta (manufactured by Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lily & Co.) as well as Novo Nordisk’s Victoza.  Although the manufacturers claim the drugs are safe and have not been proven to increase patient’s cancer risk, a review of data of the side effects by researchers at UCLA showed that patients whotake Byetta and similar medications were six times as likely to develop pancreatitis, which raises the risk for tumors.


These GLP-1 drugs mimic GLP-1 hormones, which stimulate natural insulin production in diabetics.  Even though manufacturers insist their diabetes medications are safe, researcher at UCLA, Peter Butler, said many new studies prove the opposite. “There are now several animal studies as well as clinical reports from humans that taken together raise concern that there may well be serious unexpected side effects of the GLP-1 class of drugs on the pancreas.”  According to Butler the drugs may promote unnecessary production of pancreatic duct cells that may then partially block the passage of digestive enzymes causing local pancreatic inflammation – a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.


Victoza is relatively new, having just received FDA approval on January 25, although it was approved in Europe last July.  Victoza is designed to stimulate insulin secretion when high blood sugar is present.  The advantage of Victoza over Byetta is it can be injected once daily, anytime, as compared to Byetta, which is taken twice daily, with meals.  (However, a once weekly Byetta is being examined by the FDA and may be available soon).  Byetta and Victoza are both valuable treatments for type 2 diabetes.   Both have the advantage of decreased appetite resulting in weight loss, however, patients complain of stomach pain, severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and horrible headaches.  Both cause a delay in stomach emptying and may interfere with the absorption of medications taken by mouth.  Serious side effects include inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which may be severe and can lead to death.  Both medications have been associated with benign thyroid tumors in rats.  Victoza has been associated with malignant tumors in rats at doses equivalent to recommended human doses. The Diabetes Control Center would not use either medication in a patient with a history of thyroid cancer or family history of such cancer.


Most experts acknowledge that the number of problems reported to the FDA typically only represent 1% – 10% of the actual number of adverse issues that have been experienced by users of prescription medications.


It is awesome that these newer, long lasting medications have been introduced, but the trade-off can be fatal.   Despite all of these documented risks and warnings, many diabetic patients report they finally have their lives back and for the first time have regulated blood sugar levels, are losing weight and enjoy their new found energy.   It is a personal decision whether to live in fear that the side effects of these new medications will one day kill you themselves.


Please stop by our website or call us at 1-800-246-4878 for more information.

If The Public Really Knew The Dangers Of Their Drugs…Would They Continue?

September 15, 2011

September 13, 2011

In a September JAMA/archives journals (Archives of Internal Medicine), it was reported that so many adults think that ONLY the most effective drugs with no serious adverse effects are given FDA approval.  If explanations were provided regarding the FDA’s uncertainties about drug benefits, perhaps it would affect your choice of drug treatment.

The cholesterol lowering drugs Zetia and Vytorin reached sales of $1.8 million before a study found no clinical benefit from their use. Also, the anti-inflammatory medicine Vioxx reached sales of $2.4 billion (six months after FDA approval) before it was taken off the market due to its association with heart attacks and strokes.

The article recommends that the FDA should more effectively communicate what it knows and does not know about how well the drugs may or may not work.  It is clear that information about new drugs is inconclusive at best when they come to market.  It is only after several years of data do the uncertainties become known.

Dr. Michael Carome, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Health Research said it best that “…patients need to be aware that almost any drug has potential side effects……for newly approved drugs, there’s often insufficient information about serious risks, some of which may have gone undetected during the approval process and won’t be detected until they’re used in the real-world setting on a wide-scale basis.”  They support a “do-not-use-for-seven-years rule.”

Too many people place too much reliance on the FDA stamp of approval.  A recent study found that people who receive the most information about a medicine were better able to make the best drug choices.  The study revealed that people are not only concerned about potential harmful side effects, but also whether or not a new drug really works. The FDA is mandated to approve drugs within ten months of its submission or face funding cuts.  The problem is that most of these medicines do not show their adverse side effects for many years.

It wasn’t until the cholesterol lowering drugs Zetia and Vytorin reached $1.8 million in sales in 2007 before a study found no clinical benefit from these drugs whatsoever.  The anti-inflammatory medication Vioxx reached $2.4 billion in sales by 2003 before it was taken off the market (six months after FDA approval) due to its association with heart attacks and strokes.

Dr. Michael Carome, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Health Research group in Washington, D.C. states that “patients need to be aware that almost any drug has potential side effects.” “And for newly approved drugs, there’s often insufficient information about serious risks, some of which may have gone undetected during the approval process and won’t be detected until they’re used in the real-world setting on a wide-scale basis.”  His organization supports a “do-not-use-for-seven-years rule.”  Unless a drug is a breakthrough medication for a condition for which there is no previously good options, we recommend that people not take it for at least seven years.

Daniel Carpenter of Harvard University professor of government said,  “the term ‘FDA approved’ gives patients a mental and emotional security about a drug.”  But also thinks people may attach too much subconscious trust to the FDA stamp of approval.

Until the public is given honest information regarding medications prescribed to them, people are exposing themselves to chemicals which may cause more harm than if not taken at all.  The problem is that most of these medicines do not show their adverse side effects for many years after they were approved.  By then, so many people have already risked their health and in some cases it is too late.

For more information, please visit our website.

Boiron Cold Pill No More Than A Sugar Pill?

September 11, 2011

(September 11, 2011) A California judge granted class certification in a suit targeting the U.S. wing of French homeopathic medicine company Boiron Inc. with claims that they falsely advertised its homeopathic cold remedy relieved cold symptoms.

October 10, 2010, Gina Delarosa brought the suit after Boiron USA Inc’s Children’s Coldcalm failed to relieve her family’s symptoms as advertised.   She claims that Boiron knows Coldcalm to be little more than a sugar pill, yet markets it as an effective cold remedy for financial profit.


Coldcalm is a homeopathic medicine.  Children’s Coldcalm targets children 3 years and older.  According to the Delarosa’s complaint, “Children’s Coldcalm (CCCalm) is nothing more than a sugar tablet that appeals to consumers because of its labeling as a homeopathic medicine.”  She also states “defendants sell CCCalm for approximately $10 per unit based on false advertising claims.  As a result, defendants have wrongfully taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from California consumers.”

It began in October 2010, when Delarosa and her family caught a cold.  After purchasing this product with no relief of their cold symptoms, she hired an attorney.  Delarosa sent a demand letter to Boiron in June ’10 ordering them to cease its allegedly false advertising of CCCalm in California and to offer Californians reimbursement of their purchase price for the product.  That never happened, so Delarosa served Boiron with a class action complaint in Orange County Superior Court on September 14th.

Delarosa argued that she found the Coldcalm pellets ineffective in relieving cold symptoms and accuses Boiron of violating the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, the California Unfair Competition Law, and committed common law fraud.

The “active ingredient” in oscillococcinum is prepared by incubating small amounts of freshly killed duck’s liver and heart for 40 days.  The solution is then freeze-dried, rehydrated, diluted to 1/100 200 times and impregnated into sugar granules.

Last year the FDA & FTC jointly warned a distributor that it was illegal to advertise oscillococcinum “for fast relief or flu infection symptoms.” After noting that the FDA has not required homeopathic products meet efficacy standards, and does not impose standards for strength, purity or quality of homeopathic drugs, the judge ruled that jurisdiction is proper because the agency has largely abandoned any role it might have had in creating such standards.

I don’t know about you, but I would not be too pleased knowing I actually paid money to purchase duck’s liver and heart parts to feed to my sick child.   I think that is more dangerous than the good old-fashioned cold symptoms.  Just because these big manufacturers know that the FDA is not testing their homeopathic products, they can put any garbage in there and sell it as magic potions. And the worst part about it is that they are knowingly  profiting off of the consumers from this.

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Anti-Depressant Drug Celexa May Cause Fatal Heartbeat Problems

September 9, 2011

(September 9, 2011) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned on Wednesday that high doses of Forest Laboratories, Inc’s. anti-depressant Celexa may cause a fatal irregular heart beat in some users.


Celexa (citalopramhydrobromide) is a widely-used antidepressant drug.  It is classified as a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, or SSRI,  and is also prescribed for anxiety and OCD.  It restores the balance of serotonin (whichis a natural substance in the brain) in order to improve mood problems.  Some previous side effects reported are loss of sex drive, drowsiness, insomnia, weight gain and nausea.  In some cases hallucinations and convulsions have been reported.  Some patients report suicidal thoughts after first starting an antidepressant, especially if the patient is younger than 24 years old.


Newborn babies whose mothers took Celexa during pregnancy may experience life-threatening lung problems, however, if you stop taking anti-depressant medication during pregnancy, you may experience a relapse of depression.   Celexa can pass into the breast milk and harm a nursing baby.  Do not give this medication to anyone under age 18.  According to the FDA, “patients at particular risk for developing QT interval include those with underlying heart conditions and those who are predisposed to low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood.  Celexa can cause abnormal changes to the electrical activity of the heart.”


The FDA stated that there is no known additional benefit in the treatment of depression with doses greater than 40 mg.  The labels no longer suggest that some patients may require 60 mg per day and now warns against doses larger than 40 mg per day, stating warnings of arrhythmia dangers.  THE HIGHER THE CELEXA DOSE, THE GREATER THERISK TO THE HEART!  Labels will be revised for both Celexa brand name as well as generic versions, not to exceed 40mg daily.


I am not sure about you, butI would rather be a little depressed and here to talk about it than dead from a cardiac arrest caused from my anti-depressant medication.  You would think that if these large pharmaceutical companies were aware of the potential deadly risks associated with these medications, they would do more thorough testing before making them available to the public. What is it going to take for these companies to do the right thing? Hopefully not many lives are lost.

Hotel Guests Seek $337.5 Million in Damages from Las Vegas Hotel

September 8, 2011

(September 8, 2011) Several guests staying at Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada are suing the hotel and its builders for $337.5 million after alleging contracting a deadly form of pneumonia from the hotel’s water supply and air conditioning system.


Six of the eight people looking to sue stayed at the Aria Hotel between April and June 2011, while the other two guests are their spouses.  They claim that they contracted Legionnaire’s disease, which can be a deadly form of pneumonia, from the hotel’s showers and other vaporized water sources; and from inhaling air from the air conditioning vents and has been confirmed by health investigators who believe bacteria spread through the hotel’s air conditioning and water systems.  This is being blamed on the builder’s negligence as well as management’s failing to inspect and/or repair.


All involved claim to have gotten very ill after their hotel stay, with severe headaches, nausea, fatigue and a dangerously high fever; requiring large medical bills and seeking compensation for pain and suffering, as well as “loss of life’s pleasures.”  None have fully recovered to this day.


The outcome of this suit depends on the measures the parties took to ensure that the building was up to code and functioning properly.  As property owners, this is their obligation, keeping their guests safe.


According to published media reports, six guests have become ill with Legionellosis since the Aria hotel opened in December, 2009; one guest in 2009, two guests in 2010, three in 2011 prior to this suit.  According to press reports, since the water system appeared to be in good condition the Southern Nevada Health District decided against testing the hotel’s water until two additional cases were reported to the CDC in June, 2011 at which time health officials commenced testing.


If the Aria hotel was aware of the potentially fatal risk to their guests, how can they still operate and welcome innocent, paying guests to their resort?  At least they should have warnings visible before any guests book their reservations to make them aware of the risks they face when staying at this hotel. But then again, why would they want to do that? After all, it might affect business. Is this justice?


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$20 Billion Fund for Victims of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

September 7, 2011

(September 7, 2011)  A $20 billion fund for the victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico paid out $5 billion to approximately 204,000 claimants in its first year of operation.


Since the doors opened August 10, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility processed 97% of about 948,000 claims it received from persons and businesses that had suffered losses from the accident.


It may surprise you that a year after the BP oil tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico took place, there is hope that a $500 million fund will be made available to research just how the oil spills impacted the region.  The fund released by BP is being controlled by Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Research Board, which is awaiting research proposals.  These scientists have been anxiously waiting for these research funds to be paid.  The fund was supposed to provide $50 million each year for the next ten years to study five specific aspects regarding oil spills.


It is great that BP is repaying claimants for their losses, but how do you compute what the costs are to the ecosystem for the loss of birds and fish?  Considering the fact that in 1989 Exxon had such a major oil spill for which the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 “OPA” was founded, and such negative press was given to that disaster, you would think the oil companies would go to any measures to be sure something like this would never repeat itself.  Our oceans will never be the same because of the oil companies’ carelessness.


Energy dependence is a greatly debated topic in today’s society. There are so many documented sites that are ready to be explored, however, given the track record of the companies charged with the responsibility of drilling and exploration, how can we allow them to drill without very strict standards, conditions and penalties for failure to comply?  The destruction of these spills wreaks havoc on our ecosystem, as well as our economic system affected by these disasters. Is this justice?