Monthly Archives: August 2007

FDA Proposes New Labeling for Sunscreens

Manufacturers of sun screen products started using the current labeling system in 1978 where consumers were advised of the products’ SPF (sun protection factor) number. These SPF numbers masured UVB rays. The system has not changed since then in spite of a spike in skin cancer reports throughout the country. The new labeling would require sun screen manufacturers to test for and label their products for the deeper and more dangerous UVA rays that cause sun spots and wrinkles. However, both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer. According to a story in the NY Times , health officials welcome the change. “The bottom line is this is terrific news for consumers,” said Dr. James M. Spencer, a dermatologist in St. Petersburg, Fla., specializing in skin cancer. “Now when you go to the drugstore and buy sunscreen, you will finally know what you are getting.”

Medication Errors Can Lead to Serious Injury

The Institute of Medicine estimates that 1.5 million people are injured, sickened, or killed by medication errors. In his book, “Medication Errors”, editor Michael R. Cohen — a pharmacist and the president of the nonprofit Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), as well as a 2005 recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” — defines a medication error as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer.” According to one study, 61% of these errors are attributable to illegible prescriptions or transcription errors.

Bush Administration Seeks to Limit Health Insurance for Children

In a move that will undoubtedly force a showdown with Congress later this year, the Bush Administration has moved to restrict health insurance for children whose families fall within the 250% poverty level ($51,625 for a family of four). In effect, children will lose health insurance because these middle income families will no longer be able to afford the insurance. While Bush Administration officials argue that the restriction is necessary because SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) has expanded beyond its original intent of covering only those children whose families fall within the 200% poverty level or $41,300 for a family of four, I suspect the real reason is Bush’s desire to protect and coddle the private insurance industry fat cats rather than children. This is a deplorable state of affairs that Congress needs to rectify in order to protect our children. No child should be without adequate health insurance under any circumstances.

What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit is a civil action brought by one or more individuals on behalf of themselves and “all others similarly situated”. The purpose of a class action is to secure a judicial remedy which not only eliminates a wrong committed against an individual, and compensates him or her for the effects of that wrong, but which also provides such remedies for all others in a definable class who have suffered as a result of the same practice or practices. The technical legal requirements and definition of a class in federal court proceedings are contained in Rule 23 (b) of the Federal Rules of Procedure. The district court must find that the claims of the class members contain questions of law or fact in common before the lawsuit can proceed as a class action.

Relationship Between Doctors’ CMEs and Drug/Device Industry May Be Investigated

The relationship between doctors’ continuing medical education and the drug and medical device industry which often underwrites that education may come under Congressional scrutiny soon. According to a Wall St. Journal report, “The senators want to know whether the billion dollars a year the drug and device industries are pouring into CME winds up making doctors prescribe too many expensive, brand-name medicines and devices. One of the guys they’re asking is Murray Kopelow, the M.D. who runs the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, which watches over more than 700 CME providers.”
The conflict comes when what gets taught in these industry funded continuing education courses is tends to be what the industries themselves want doctors to learn so that the industries can put more money in their own coffers. This is the basis for curriculum bias.

Lawsuit Discovery Leads to More Abusers

The deposition I took in June of Sister Lucy Vasquez led Orlando Sentinel reporter to dig into the recent past of the Diocese of Orlando. The deposition was taken for a case in which I represent a young man who was sexually abused by a Catholic priest in the 1980’s. During the deposition, I asked Sister Lucy, the former Chancellor of the Diocese of Orlando, about another priest who had sexually abused minors. The priest was from Philadelphia and had left a treatment facility for sexual abusers and landed in Orlando. When parishioners became concerned that the priest was living with teenage boys, they called their local priest who in turn called Sister Lucy. Sister Lucy then called her counterpart in Philadelphia. It’s interesting to note that she did not call the authorities. During her deposition testimony, Sister Lucy stated that she could not recall the priest or the phone call she made to Philadelphia about him. According to her testimony, she took no notes, made no records, and opened no files about this priest. Yet she was in charge of wayward priests at the time. After reading the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report in which this priest is mentioned, it’s hard to believe Sister Lucy did not see red flags concerning this priest. Apparently, her colleague in Philadelphia told her about his past yet she chose to take no action. This is why we need to pursue the truth in a court of law. The church has shown itself time and time again as incapable of policing themselves.