Already accused by the federal government of paying millions of dollars in kickbacks to doctors, some orthopedic device companies gave a partial explanation as to why the payments were made. Zimmer paid $85 million dollars to consultants, most of whom are doctors, during the first 10 months of this year. According to the Wall St. Journal Health Blog, implant maker Zimmer’s CFO detailed the payments as follows: “74% of the outlays were for royalties, 11% for consulting, 10% for “research & clinical” work, 4% for “education & other” and 1% for travel and expenses.”
The FDA is advising a warning be placed on flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza due to psychiatriac events associated with the two drugs. Two years ago, the FDA could not make a direct link between the deaths of 12 Japanese children and Tamiflu but the federal agency did update Tamiflu’s label concerning supervision of patients exhibiting delirium or self-injury.
American Foods Group has voluntarily recalled 96,000 pounds of ground beef after two people became sick, possibly due to E.coli bacteria. E. coli O157:H7 can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. It also has the potential to be fatal especially in those with weakened or compromised immune systems. The E.coli bacteria lives in the intestines of cattle. The bacteria becomes dangerous to humans when the bacteria comes into contact with meat due to improper butchering or processing. The bacteria is killed if the meat is cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
In the past week, 4 people have died as a result of being shot by a taser stun gun. The gun which sends thousands of volts of electricity into the human body continues to draw criticism from public advocacy groups as well as the Canadian government. This past week, police tasered and killed three suspects in Florida, Maryland, and New Mexico.
Boston Scientific has agreed to increase its settlement fund to $240 million in order to settle lawsuits regarding its faulty pacemakers. The original settlement fund was $195 million. The defibrillators in question were made by Guidant Corp. which was taken over by Boston Scientifice. The lawsuits came as a result of faulty wiring that filed to give the heart the necessary jolt of electricity in order for the cardiac rhythm to stabilize.
Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki, a civil and canon lawyer as well as a top lieutenant of Cardinal George, recently told a group of Catholic lawyers that the devil himself was behind the Catholic priest abuse lawsuits. Paprocki told the lawyers, “This burden needs to be lifted,” Paprocki said during a special mass for judges and attorneys in Grand Rapids, Mich., last month.
“The settlement or award of civil damages is punishing the wrong people, namely the average parishioner or donor whose financial contributions support the church but who have no role in the supervision of clergy,” he said.
This “burden” of which the Bishop speaks is one of the bishops’ own making. The bishops have lost a tremendous amount of credibility because of the way in which they’ve mishandled the sexual abuse crisis. One of their own national Review Board members, former Gov. Frank Keating, quit the Board in protest, likening the bishops to “cosa nostra.” Instead of trying to protect the integrity of the institution, it would be nice to hear Bishop Paprocki talk about protecting our children.
Avandia, the once popular diabetes drug, will receive a black box warning that the drug has “been associated with an increased risk of ischemic events such as heart attacks.” Glaxo did win out in that the warning states that all data remains inconclusive. The warning will be added to drug products that work in combination with Avandia.
A 79 year old Catholic nun has pled no contest to two counts of indecent behavior with a child. The abuse occurred when Sister Norma Giannini was a teacher and principal at a Catholic school in the 1960’s. The criminal complaint detailed the abuse of two boys who, at the time of the abuse were in middle school. One of the survivors estimated that he was abused more than 80 times by the nun. This is the first time that a nun has faced criminal charges for sexual abuse. Since the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis broke some five years ago, priests have been at the forefront of the news stories concerning sexual abuse. However, civil lawsuits have been filed against nuns and their religious orders for sexual abuse as well. According to a spokesperson for Voice of the Faithful, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Nearly a month ago, Medtronic’s Sprint Fidelis defibrillator was pulled off the market for defective lead wires. This time another company’s wires have been found to perforate the heart causing bleeding. The pacemaker in question this time is manufactured by St. Jude Medical. The Riata line of defibrillator wires have been found to poke holes in the heart. An editorial in PACE today states that the perforations are not physician related but stem from a defective product design flaw.
Two pharmaceutical companies, Johnson & Johnson and Amgen, have agreed to place stronger warning labels on three anemia drugs. The decision was made in consulation with the FDA after studies have shown that Epogen, Aranesp, and Procrit all could cause heart attacks, a worsening of cancer, and death. The drugs are used by approximately 1 million cancer patients a year.