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Massive Airbag Recall: Are You In Danger?

In October 2014, a massive airbag recall of over 7.8 million vehicles was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over concerns that airbags from manufacturer Takata were faulty and dangerous. This recall covers numerous makes and models, affects vehicles worldwide, and continues to grow. Already this recall is substantially larger than the In October 2014, a massive airbag recall of over 7.8 million vehicles was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over concerns that airbags from manufacturer Takata were faulty and dangerous. This recall covers numerous makes and models, affects vehicles worldwide, and continues to grow. Already this recall is substantially larger than the recent recall of GM vehicles; including vehicles worldwide, the recall currently affects 16.5 million automobiles. The Problem Airbags produced by manufacturer Takata contain a flaw that causes the airbag, when deployed, to inflate explosively, causing parts inside the airbag ignition system to break off. These parts, made of plastic and metal, effectively become shrapnel, puncturing the airbag’s fabric and seriously injuring the vehicle’s occupants. In affected Honda vehicles, rupturing airbags have contributed to two deaths and more than 30 injuries, with an additional 139 injuries reported from a varied collection of other manufacturers using the Takata airbags. The Cause There is particular urgency for vehicles located in high-humidity areas, such as the South, because the defect is associated with the airbag ignition source, which uses ammonium nitrate as a source for ignition and inflation of the airbag. Ammonium nitrate is sensitive to moisture, and it is suspected that the flaw in the affected airbags involves exposure of the compound to air-born moisture found in hot, humid areas. The NHTSA advises consumers living in hot, humid areas – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and US territories American Samoa, Guam, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands – to have their vehicle inspected immediately. But regardless of where you live (and Southern Indiana can be hot and humid, too), assessing your vehicle’s risk for this recall should be done as soon as possible. The Legal Impact Happening so closely on the heels of the GM recall, the Takata airbag recall is alarming due to the incredible slowness of auto companies to respond to this defect. The issue with Takata’s airbags dates back to 2004, when Honda first noticed the defect and filed the necessary paperwork with the NHTSA. The defect was reported again in 2007, and continued to be reported as recently as 2009 and 2010, in which airbags deployed and exploded in minor accidents, severely injuring or killing vehicle occupants. Despite the reports filed as required by law, further investigation into the issue was limited at best. Only after Honda issued a second recall for the same issue did other automobile manufacturers begin to question the safety of the airbag products in use in their own product lines. According to a recent news article in the New York Times, when Takata became aware of the malfunction of its airbags in 2004, safety engineers at the company were ordered to conduct secret tests to determine the scope of the problem. The results of these tests led engineers to begin designing fixes for the issue in advance of a recall, but executives at Takata instead ordered testing data destroyed and maintained the existing airbag design. It was only after the growing body of evidence, several years in the making, pointed to a significant issue with the Takata airbag design that the NHTSA issued the airbag recall. Affected Models This recall affects more than 50 models manufactured between 2000 and 2011. The manufacturers include: BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota. The NHTSA recommends you check your vehicle’s VIN number to determine if your vehicle is one affected by this recall. You can check your VIN number here. If your vehicle is affected by the airbag recall If you determine that your vehicle’s airbags are affected by this recall, contact your dealer’s service department and make arrangements for the necessary repairs. If you’ve been injured If you, a family member, or friend have been involved in an auto accident in which your airbags have deployed and ruptured due to this defect, causing injury or death, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced attorney for a review of the facts of your case.

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Be Informed When Using Alternative Medicine

Do you use alternative medicine instead of mainstream methods of medicine, and how certain are you about its effectiveness on your overall health? Alternatives to traditional medicine – known broadly by such terms as alternative medicine, holistic medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy, and natural medicine – have in recent years become more popular across all segments of  the population. However, alternative medicine can be dangerous, and using common sense will go a long way to protecting yourself from unscrupulous alternative medicine manufacturers. The attraction of “alternative” medicine Pharmaceutical companies bear some of the blame in driving people toward alternative medicine. It seems that any pharmaceutical advertising that we see on television or read in magazines also comes with a lengthy disclaimer. You know these disclaimers: “May cause dry mouth, constipation, seizures, increased risk of stroke…” Often it seems that the cure is worse than the disease, and while legally the pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to include these disclaimers in their advertising, a laundry list of possible side effects may make people reluctant to try FDA-approved medications. Additionally, the cost of some pharmaceuticals is beyond what many patients are willing or able to pay, and this may cause some to seek different treatment options. These factors may mean that people are more willing to try “natural” remedies as a part of their treatment. Unfortunately, a “natural” remedy may not help, and may in fact worsen the health issue. Not vetted by the FDA While there’s certainly nothing wrong with chicken soup when you have a cold, alternative treatments for many illnesses and diseases can actually do more harm than good. When you choose to forego conventional medicine in favor of alternative therapies, there is a possibility that your illness will worsen. Examples of alternative medicine include megadoses of vitamins, herbal preparations, dietary supplements, herbal teas, use of massage or manual therapies, magnets, nutritional extremes, and spiritual healing. If you examine the labels on some of the various “remedies” and supplements used in alternative medicine, you will see a disclaimer: “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Regardless if the manufacturer makes the claim that a supplement will treat or cure a disease, they must legally include this disclaimer on their label, as the FDA does not evaluate such claims. Only established pharmaceuticals can legally make the claim that they are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease, and only after a thorough process of investigation and testing by the FDA. A brief history of alternative medicine Alternative medicine, ironically enough, was mainstream medicine once upon a time. Ancient societies relied on shamans and healers to treat their illnesses and ailments, and many of the therapies used in alternative medicine today stem from those dark ages. However, as civilization became more sophisticated, and as science developed, many of these treatments were proven to be harmful or ineffective. Modern medicine developed as scientific advances were made, and continues to develop today, while the methods of the old shamans and healers continue to fade into the annals of history. What about “integrated” or “complementary” medicine? Some physicians have expressed a willingness to use alternative treatments alongside the more traditional forms of medicine in use today. These alternative treatments have been proven scientifically to perform just as well as today’s pharmaceuticals, without some of the side effects found with medicines currently in use. Physicians who adapt some forms of alternative medicine into their practice tend to promote this type of treatment as “integrated” or “complementary” medicine, as it supplements the traditional form of medicine in use today. For example, a doctor may determine that a supplement of Vitamin B-12 would be beneficial for a patient undergoing treatment for anemia, and may suggest a certain dosage of this vitamin in addition to the course of treatment the patient is undergoing. The supplemental B-12 would complement the treatment rather than presume to solve the issue as a stand-alone treatment. The difference here is that the supplemental medical treatment is directed by a licensed, board-certified physician whose primary oath to his or her profession is, “first, do no harm.” If it looks like a duck… You may be wondering why aromatherapy or oil-pulling or reflexology seems to work for some people and not others. The answer is best left to the scientific community, because research is ongoing in order to prove or discredit many alternative medicine treatments. So far, no one has cured cancer by using herbs and megadose vitamins and it’s unlikely they will. An editorial in the Journal of American Medical Association in 1998 spells out the medical community’s feelings on the subject of alternative medicine very well: “There is no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine supported by solid data or unproven medicine, for which scientific evidence is lacking.” Until the scientific evidence proves the effectiveness of alternative medicine treatments, you would be wise to approach this subject with caution. Please understand that there are no national licensing standards for alternative medicine practitioners, and the requirements for credentials or certifications vary from state to state. Government regulations, licenses, and certificates do not guarantee safe, effective treatment. Also, be aware that some individuals who offer alternative medicine treatments are not licensed in any way to provide medical advice. Sometimes what appears to be quackery is exactly that. Abandoning contemporary medicine in favor of alternative methods can be dangerous and harmful to your long-term health. When it comes to alternative medicine, thoroughly investigate the claims being made and draw your own conclusions. Talk with your doctor. If you choose to use alternative therapies, please involve all of your healthcare professionals, so that they may have a complete picture of the methods being used to maintain or improve your overall health. Finally, if your health has been damaged by alternative medicine, speaking with an experienced attorney can help you to determine whether you have legal recourse.

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Zostavax Required To Add Shingles To Side Effects

August 2014 — A label change was required by the FDA to include shingles as a possible side effect after numerous reports of the vaccination causing shingles. Reference: Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Zostavax.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines/zostavax.

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Byetta And Bydureon Settlements

2014 — AstraZeneca settled 84 Byetta and Bydureon cases related to cancer claims for an undisclosed amount. Reference:  Kirk, Austin. “Byetta Settlements Reached in 84 Cases, But Hundreds of Lawsuits Remain.” AboutLawsuitscom, 8 Aug. 2014, www.aboutlawsuits.com/byetta-settlements-cases-remain-68830/.

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FDA Issued Safety Communication for Taxotere

June 2014 – The FDA issued a safety communication about the potential for patients to experience intoxication during or after the use of Taxotere due to the presence of ethanol in docetaxel. Reference: “FDA Warns That Cancer Drug Docetaxel May Cause Symptoms of Alcohol.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-warns-cancer-drug-docetaxel-may-cause-symptoms-alcohol

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The Dangers of Drunk Driving

Most of us have been affected by drunken driving in some way – whether through personal experience or through our acquaintance with someone else’s personal experience – and yet it continues to occur despite our awareness of the problem. In a society where it’s always “5 o’clock somewhere,” the legal ramifications of drinking and driving are well established, and though we know that driving while under the influence is bad, we rationalize such a risky behavior. After all, it’s a fine line between a drink with dinner and being too impaired to safely drive. Measuring BAC BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content, can be measured by breath, blood, and urine tests. The accuracy of these tests is dependent upon a number of factors, and the choice of which test to use is most often based on convenience and portability. The technology available to law enforcement officials allows for a simple assessment in the field using a breath analysis device, more commonly known as a breathalyzer. What is Considered “Drunken” Driving? Most people can tell you what the “legal limit” is in their area. In Indiana, a BAC of at least .08% puts you over the limit. The amount of alcohol you must consume to reach these numbers is dependent on many factors, including (but not limited to) your gender, body weight, and rate/duration of consumption. In short, what puts one person over the limit may not have the same effect on someone else. Drunken Driving and You If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driver, you know the impact firsthand. Every hour of every day, someone is injured or killed in a crash involving an impaired driver. In fact, an average of one in three people will be involved in a drunken driving crash in their lifetime. Those who manage to survive a crash often face long months or years of recovery and may never regain the quality of life they knew before the accident. They may never be able to return to their career, support their family, or care for themselves. For the person convicted of impaired driving, the impact of such a conviction will have far-reaching consequences, beyond incarceration. A DUI/DWI conviction can result in a suspension or surrender of a driver’s license, which can result in loss of employment if a position requires driving as part of the job description. A job search can also be affected, since most employers conduct a criminal background check on potential employees. Even a first-time DUI offense can impact a person’s ability to obtain certain jobs, regardless if that person’s criminal record is otherwise clear. Some colleges and universities refuse admittance to those with a DUI conviction, and certain state certification and licensing entities, such as those for educators or physicians, prohibit certification for individuals with a DUI on their record. And for those whose DUI conviction is classified as a felony, certain rights – such as the right to vote, purchase or possess a firearm, or obtain a passport – are surrendered. The Bottom Line Alcohol affects a person’s judgment, depth perception, and the motor skills necessary to safely operate a vehicle. And while there are many home remedies for overindulgence, the fact is that coffee, cold showers, or exercising do not mitigate the effects of alcohol in a person’s body. The only cure for alcohol consumption is the passage of time. The human body, regardless of gender or weight, metabolizes alcohol at a rate of about one drink per hour. Consuming alcohol at a pace beyond that rate increases the potential for an individual to become a statistic. In fact, more than 10,000 Americans become a statistic to drunken driving each year, and those who survive an alcohol-related accident may never fully recover. While there is some legal recourse for those affected by an impaired driver, decreasing the number of alcohol-related accidents has the ability to positively impact the statistics nationwide. If you or a loved one have been injured by the actions of a drunk driver, it can be to your benefit to talk with an attorney. Gerling has extensive experience in representing persons whose lives have been turned upside down by someone else’s decision to drink and drive.

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Defective Consumer Devices

Relationship Between Exposure To Glyphosate And Cancer Supported By Scientific Studies

2014 — A relationship between exposure to glyphosate and B cell lymphoma was found in 2014 after researchers studied 44 different scientific publications.  The publications covered 32 years’ worth of data on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and pesticide exposure. Reference:  Moncivais, Katy. “Roundup Cancer Lawsuit: 2020 Updates & Settlements.” Consumer Safety, 8 Jan. 2021, www.consumersafety.org/product-lawsuits/roundup/

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2013 Study Finds Higher Rate of Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Cancer

2013 — In 2013, the FDA was still investigating the link between incretin mimetics and pancreatic disease.  They released a drug safety communication reporting the possibility of incretin mimetics increasing the risk of pancreatitis as well as causing pre-cancerous changes in the pancreas.  They also cited a study, which was unpublished at the time, that found how the use of exenatide or sitagliptin can double the risk of developing acute pancreatitis. A 2013 study in the medical journal Diabetes found that patients using incretin mimetics had a higher rate of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer than patients using other diabetes medications. References:  Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “FDA Investigating Reports of Possible Increased Risk of Pancreatitis..” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-investigating-reports-possible-increased-risk-pancreatitis-and-pre. Butler, Alexandra E., et al. “Marked Expansion of Exocrine and Endocrine Pancreas With Incretin Therapy in Humans With Increased Exocrine Pancreas Dysplasia and the Potential for Glucagon-Producing Neuroendocrine Tumors.” Diabetes, American Diabetes Association, 1 July 2013, diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/62/7/2595.short.

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Judicial Panel Transfers the First 53 Cases

August 2013 — In August 2013, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the first 53 cases against Merck, Amylin, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk to MDL No. 2452. The original cases came from state courts in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Since all of the lawsuits claim the drugs caused pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis, the court felt it would be more efficient to centralize the cases because they all would likely use the same experts and go through the same discovery process. Reference:  “Januvia, Byetta and Victoza Lawsuits – MDL History & Appeals.” Drugwatch.com, 20 Apr. 2020, www.drugwatch.com/januvia/lawsuits/.

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Doctor’s Research Aiding Investigation Of Link Between Incretin Mimetics and Cancer

A previous Merck researcher is now assisting litigation against such drug manufacturers over diabetes treatments that he found were linked to pancreatic cancer. Dr. Peter Butler tested Merck’s drug Januvia on rats in 2008 and discovered changes in the rats’ pancreases that he worried could lead to cancer. Butler’s follow-up research to confirm the linkage is now fueling investigations by the FDA and European Medicines Agency into drugs like Januvia. Source: The New York Times

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