Monthly Archives: August 2008

Stronger Warning Label Sought For Diabetes Drug Byetta

As deaths linked to the diabetes drug Byetta continue to climb, federal regulators are seeking a stronger warning label for the controversial drug. The FDA reported this week that they’ve receive six new reports of patients developing a dangerous form of pancreatititis while using Byetta. Two of those six have died. Byetta manufacturers Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Company have downplayed the news saying diabetics are already more prone to pancreatitis than the general non-diabetic population.
This week’s FDA announcement came on the heels of last October’s announcement that 30 Byetta patients had contracted the rare form of pancreatitis. More than 700,000 patients have used the injectable drug marketed for type 2 diabetes since it was first introduced on the market in 2005.

Monsignor Dale Fushek’s Sex Abuse Trial Pushed Back

Monsignor Dale Fushek, the charismatic former leader and founder of Life Teen as well as the former Vicar General of the Diocese of Phoenix, has had his trial pushed back from this October to the middle of November in order that the judge in the case can hear and rule on motions filed in his criminal sex trial. Fushek has been charged and will be tried on 7 counts of misdemeanor sex crimes. The sexual abuse incidents occurred in the 1980’s and early 1990’s when Fushek was head to St. Timothy Catholic Church. The allegations came to light three years ago when the victims came forward to tell their story of abuse.
At the time of his arrest, Fushek was one of the highest ranking priests accused of sexual abuse of minors. Since that time, Jesuit Father Donald McGuire, Mother Theresa’s spritual director, has been accused of multiple instances of sexual abuse.
Most recently, a very popular Harlem pastor, Monsignor Wallace Harris, has stepped down due to allegations that he molested two 13 or 14 year old boys in the 1980’s.

Allstate Insurance Agrees to 5 Million Dollar Fine

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has been battling Allstate Insurance Company for ten months to try to get the Company to comply with Florida consumer insurance laws. Allstate had tried to raise rates on homeowners policies by 42 percent.Allstate had also refused to turn over documents requested by the Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. The Commissioner had banned Allstate from selling policies in Florida for a day as punishment for the insurance company. The settlement agreement provides that Allstate shall pay $5,000,000 into the Florida Insurance Regulatory Trust Fund. The settlement agreement also requires that Allstate agree to write 100,000 new home and condominuim owners policies. Allstate is also licensed to sell auto liability insurance in Florida. I doubt that this will affect Allstate’s notorious delay, deny defend policy of dealing with consumers claims.

Raytheon Contamination Cleanup to Begin in 90 Days, Take 5 Years

Raytheon announced on Thursday that it would begin cleanup efforts at its site in St. Petersburg within 90 days. However, more than likely the cleanup will be a slow process-it could take up to 5 years to complete.
Raytheon is using a pump and treat process designed to break down 1.4-dioxane into carbon dioxide and water through an oxidation process. Equipment Raytheon is acquiring will pump about 30 to 40 gallons of water a minute from the underground plume. The wastewater will then be sent to a wastewater treatment facility.

Wall St. Journal Calls Boston Scientific Stent Study Flawed

Despite Boston Scientific’s success claims, an independent review of clinical data by the Wall St. Journal shows that the stent has significant flaws. Boston Scientific’s Taxus Liberte already enjoys strong sales abroad but is in the midst of seeking approval by the FDA. The Journal’s analysis, “Boston Scientific’s claim was based on a flawed statistical equation that favored the Liberte stent.” The equation known as the Wald interval has been criticized for exaggerating the certainty of research results. According to the Journal article, rival stent makers Abbott Laboratories and Medtronic Inc. have used the same equation in order to leverage research results in their favor. The Wall St. Journal noted the less rigorous nature of approving medical devices as opposed to pharmaceutical drugs.

BMW Recalling 200,000 Vehicles Due to Defective AirBags

The German luxury auto maker is recalling 200,000 vehicles because of a defect in the front passenger airbag. The German automaker said the recall involves the 2006 3 Series, the 2004-2006 5 Series, and the 2004-2006 X3 compact sport utility vehicles in the United States. The National Highway Transportation Safety Board posted on its website that small cracks could develop in a seat detection mat and deactivate the front passenger air bags.

AllState Cited As Nation’s Worst Insurance Company

For years now they’ve marketed their brand as the “good hands people” yet the American Association of Justice has ranked them the country’s worst insurance company for the manner in which they handle claims. The Association has labeled Allstate’s tactics as deny, delay, and defend when it comes to how Allstate makes huge profits on the backs of policy holders and the general public. The ranking is based in part by the book From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves which uncovered Allstate’s relationship with the influential consulting group McKinsey & Co. According to the book, McKinsey showed Allstate officials how to deny claims including Katrina victims. The reprehensible practices have lined the pockets of the insurance company for years while leaving honest, hard-working policy holders with burdens they presumed they were insured against.
One of the largest examples of corporate greed and public malfeasance is Allstate. For them, it’s all about profits over people. They surely aren’t the Good Hands People.

J&J Subpoenaed over Bile Duct Stent

The large pharmaceutical company and medical device maker, Johnson & Johnson, has been issued a subpoena by the Justice Department concering its sale of bile duct stents used to treat liver obstructions. The investigation and subpoena revolve around allegations the company many have sold the bile duct stents for unapproved uses, a violation of federal law. Doctors may prescribe medicines and use devices for unapproved uses but the manufacturing companies are prohibited from marketing a drug or device for uses that have not been specifically approved by the FDA. This is an obvious precaution designed to protect the consumer.
Biliary stents are approved to treat obstructions in tubes that carry bile, a digestive fluid, to the intestines, but reports to the F.D.A. indicate that they are often inserted to prop open blood vessels in the legs. The reports also stated that unapproved uses may be injuring patients.

Catholic Church Sex Abuse: Tom Doyle and the Survival of the Spirit

Fr. Tom Doyle is a Catholic priest who belongs to the religious Order of Preachers, or more commonly known Dominicans. Depending on your perspective he is either a disgruntled, reviled priest or a John the Baptist-like hero who has dared to take on the hierarchy of the Catholic Church for their complicity in the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal. Those who revile him usually belong to the group who aided and abetted the sexual abuse cover-up plaguing the Catholic Church. I know Tom Doyle, consider him a friend and an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Doyle has been a “thorn in the side” of the Catholic Church for more than two decades now. He’s not a thorn because he’s simply a priest. He’s a problem for the hierarchy (the bishops and cardinals) because besides being a priest he is also a noted scholar. He knows canon law (church law) as well as church history.
Doyle gave the keynote address in July 2008 to the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. The address was entitled “The Survival of the Spirit While Mired in the Toxic Wastes of the Ecclesiastical Swamp”. The address is both a rousing call to arms for advocacy and change as well as a thoughtful and scholarly analysis of the abuse crisis.
Doyle points out that the 2002 scandal in Boston was not unique in the history of the Catholic Church. The modern scandal was unique in the cover-up of the abuse and the bungling fashion in which the Church authorities, bishops primarily, handled the abuse crisis.
Perhaps more importantly, is Doyle’s assertion of the devastating effects on the victims of sexual abuse. As Doyle correctly points out, this is not something “gets over with and moves on.” The effects of abuse damage the psyche to the point that there remain wounds long after the abuse has ended. Because the abuse is perpetrated by so-called men of God, the abuse takes on a spritual character not easily diagnosed or “fixed”. As a lawyer, I’ve had numerous experiences where church lawyers ask for an accounting of the victims’ suffering as if it’s as easy as composing a grocery list. While these lawyers intentions may be neutral, they fail to realize that a facile categorization of injuries is nearly impossible and only adds to the suffering of the victim. Many times, the victims that has the tremendous courage to come forward is not able to verbalize the pain, alienation from God, and psychic trauma they’ve suffered. It’s as if they now live in an altered state.
One of the more subtle but vitally important aspect of Doyle’s address is how the Church has molded its victims to think of heaven, hell, sin, and redemption. In the Catholic belief system, a priest holds the power of forgiveness. Many survivors, victimized by a priest, must now turn to a priest for forgiveness and assurance that they are “right with God” even though they were victims of a crime! Doyle describes it accurately when he calls the entire situation “toxic”. According to Doyle, “forgiveness” is manipulated into something that it is not. It incorrectly requires a forgetting of the abuse with no consequences to the perpetrator of the institution that it covered it up.
Doyle’s piece is a must read not only for survivors but bishops who want to “move forward” without the accountability associated with real reform and progress. It’s a shame that in all likelihood the bishops will view the address as another attack on them and the institutional Catholic Church.

New Ecoli Beef Recall

Beef has been recalled from stores due to findings of the E. coli bacteria present in beef sold at Whole Foods Market. Unlike the tomato contamination scare earlier this summer, the source this time appears to be known. Whole Foods supplier, Coleman Natural Beef, whose meat is processed by Nebraska Beef Ltd., which was also involved in the Kroger contamination, is the likely culprit in the beef E.coli contamination. Thus far, seven people in Massachusetts have fallen ill after eating the contaminated beef. There appear to be two more victims of E.coli linked to this beef in Pennsylvania. E.coli contamination can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the worst cases kidney failure and death. Those who’ve been sickened by the tainted beef may be higher than the ones reported since not all E.coli victims report the sickness to a health official.
This particular recall involves beef sold between June 2nd and August 6th.