Monthly Archives: April 2006

Fosamax: An Example of What’s Wrong with the Pharma Industry

When I discovered that Fosamax belonged to the same family of drugs as those employed in chemotherapy treatments and that these class of drugs were thought to cause osteonecrosis, I wanted to know why Merck hadn’t come forward with that knowledge. Well, as Merck has shown in its defense of Vioxx, the company is more concerned with profits than people. In the midst of the news reports about Fosamax this week, Merck spokespeople keep insisting there is no link between the drug and osteonecrosis. Yet they never offer to investigate or do something to protect the consumer taking Fosamax. In the final analyisis, it’s difficult to trust these huge pharmaceutical companies.

Merck and Fosamax

It appears the manufacturer of Fosamax, the osteoporosis drug, knew about potential serious problems with the drug back in 2004. Fosamax belongs to a family of drugs called bisphosphonates which are believed to cause a severe osteonecrosis. Merck has made $3million from Fosamax and didn’t want to change its labeling for fear of declining sales. Sound familiar?

Fosamax-Merck’s Latest Problem

In the midst of bad news from its painkiller Vioxx, Merck & Co. now has to face similar fallout from its osteoporosis drug Fosamax. Fosamax, prescribed to treat osteoporosis, may have caused the jaw of a Floridian woman to rot. Officials originally believed osteonecrosis, defined as a rotting jaw, was confined to specific chemotherapy drugs. Fosamax and the chemotherapy treatments are in the same class of drugs. In 2004, the FDA learned Fosamax and similar drugs may cause osteonecrosis. Yet in spite of this knowledge, Merck failed and refused to change its label warning.

Bausch & Lomb Facing Investigation Into its ReNu Contact Lens Solution

Bowing to public pressure, Bausch & Lomb will take out ads today in the nation’s leading newspapers asking people not to use their eye contact solution ReNu with MoistureLoc until an investigation into its safety is completed. The unprecedented move comes as a result of findings that the contact lens solution contains a fungus, Fusarium, that can lead to blindness. Bausch & Lomb said it is voluntarily implementing the withdrawal, which does not cover other company products or ReNu with MoistureLoc made in factories outside the United States.
The company stopped shipments of MoistureLoc in the United States on Monday when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed it was scrutinizing 109 reports of Fusarium keratitis infections in patients in 17 states over the past 10 months.

Bausch & Lomb Slow to React to Crisis

After intense public pressure, Bausch & Lomb finally asked retailers to remove the ReNu contact lens solution from their shelves while an investigation into the product’s safety is completed. The question remains as to why the company has not pulled the product from the marketplace altogether. The potential damage as a result of using the product is great-blindness. A lawsuit seeking class action status has already been filed in Manhattan with probably many more to come. The company stopped shipments of MoistureLoc in the United States on Monday when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed it was scrutinizing 109 reports of Fusarium keratitis infections in patients in 17 states over the last 10 months.
Federal health officials have made no direct link between MoistureLoc and the infections, but a high incidence of the dozens of affected patients interviewed so far had used the cleaner.

Fosamax-Merck’s Latest Headache

For Merck & Co. the bad news doesn’t seem to end. On the heels of being hit with $9 million in punitive damages from its drug Vioxx, Merck is now facing lawsuits from its osteoporosis drug Fosamax. Fosamax is a defective product because it can cause osteonecrosis of the jaw, or a rotting of the jaw bone. The suit in question was filed in Ft. Myers, Florida and seeks class action status. The lawsuit alleges that Merck concealed and continues to hide Fosamax’s potentially dangerous side effects from patients and doctors.

Founder of Life Teen Will Face Criminal Charges

In spite of his defense lawyers’ testimony, Monsignor Dale Fushek will face five counts of contributing to delinquency of a minor, two counts of indecent exposure and three counts of assault. Fushek attempted to hide behind the First Amendment arguing that his salacious sex talk in the confessional was protected under the Freedom of Religion provisions in the First Amendment.

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Bausch & Lomb Halts Shipments of ReNu Solution

One of the country’s leading manufacturers of eye contact solution has stopped shipments of its popular ReNu and MoistureLoc solutions after investigations have shown the products can cause a potentially dangerous eye infection. However, the company stopped short of pulling the products from store shelves. The fungal infection known as Fusarium can cause blindness. Symptoms can include blurry vision, pain or redness, increased sensitivity to light, and discharge from the eye. It is not transmitted from person to person.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 109 reports of infection in patients in 17 states since June 2005. It has made no direct link between ReNu and the infections, but a high incidence of the affected people used the solution.

Tampa’s VA Hospital Failure to Sterilize

In an investigation made public yesterday, officials at Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Medical Center disclosed that two cranial implants were not properly sterilized prior to surgery. This is a very serious failure on the part of the hospital and calls into question the basic care patients at the facility are likely to receive. When a patient enters a hospital, especially when facing the uncertainty of a surgical procedure, that same patient should be able to trust that basic care will be afforded him or her. Failure to sterilize medical equipment or medical devices is an unconscionable error that can’t be tolerated in any medical facility. Fortunately, in this instance, patients were not permanently harmed. The Tampa VA hospital is one of the busiest facilities in the country. Further errors can not continue. Corrections in the hospital’s standard of care and its operating procedures must be undertaken immediately.