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GM Recalling 944,000 Vehicles

A heated windshield washer system that is prone to overheating and catching fire has prompted the recall of nearly one million General Motors cars, trucks and SUVs. According to General Motors, a short circuit in the circuit board that controls the windshield washer system could cause a grounding wire to overheat. That could lead to smoke and the malfunctioning of other electrical components, GM said in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There is a possibility this could lead to a fire.

According to General Motors, there have been at least three fires cause by this defect, but no injuries. (more…)

Explosion at West Virginal Bayer Plant Kills One

One worker was killed last night when a Bayer pesticide plant near Charleston, West Virginia experienced an explosion and fire.  Following the Bayer CropScience plant explosion, officials were urging residents in several communities nearby to stay in their homes.  However, that order was lifted this morning.

The explosion happened about 10:25 last night, and was felt at least a mile away. A fire blazed for several hours, and fire crews worked into the morning to contain it.  “There was a chemical release in the immediate area of the structure which developed into a fire several minutes later,” stated a Bayer press release. “The fire was brought under control by emergency response personnel from the site, and was extinguished at about 2 a.m. after operations employees completed the isolation of the operating equipment.” (more…)

Unbranded Chantix Ads Allow Pfizer to Ignore Side Effects

Drug companies are increasingly using marketing campaigns that leave out medication names, as well as side effect information. Drug companies like these “unbranded” ads because the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not require that they list safety information like side effects. Advertisements that mention a medication by name must include the reading of possible side effect. Drug company marketing execs claim that reading off side effects takes up too much time in an expensive 30 or 60 second spot. But when a drug is the subject of safety concerns, these rules can make unbranded advertising an even more attractive option for pharmaceutical companies.

Take the example of Pfizer, Inc.’s “My Time to Quit” campaign for Chantix. In the spot, a middle-age woman tells the camera, “At 6:30 in the morning, I have a cigarette. And then another on my way to work.” Viewers are then directed to Mytimetoquit.com, where they can receive information on smoking cessation. Visitors to the site find a link to a Chantix site that contains information on the antismoking drug, including the negative side effects. (more…)

After 2 Deaths, Simplicity Bassinets Finally Recalled

Several large retailers have a agreed to stop selling and recall dangerous Simplicity Bassinets that have killed two children in the past year.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Simplicity 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 Convertible “Close-Sleeper” model bassinets contain metal bars paced farther apart than 2 3/8 inches, the maximum distance allowed under federal crib safety standards. This defect poses a strangulation hazard. Parents and caregivers should stop using the Simplicity Bassinet immediately and return it to the store where purchased for a refund or store credit. Retailers participating in the Simplicity Bassinet recall include – Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us, Kmart, Big Lots, Target and J.C. Penney – have voluntary agreed to stop selling .

The CPSC has been forced to request that retailers stop selling the deadly Simplicity Bassinets because SFCA Inc., the company which purchased all of Simplicity Inc.’s assets at public auction in April 2008, has refused to cooperate with the government and recall the products. According to the CPSC, SFCA maintains that it is not responsible for products manufactured by Simplicity Inc before that purchase. According to The Washington Post, SFCA is an affiliate of Blackstreet Capital, a Bethesda private-equity fund with $88 million dollars under management. (more…)

Case Still Open on Vytorin-Cancer Link

Though it did not make much of a ripple when it was first released, a study that linked Vytorin to cancer might re-emerge to raise serious questions next week. That is because the full SEAS study is going to be released, and cardiologists and other experts can be expected to show much more skepticism towards Merck and Schering-Plough’s reassurances that its cancer findings were nothing more than an anomaly than the media has.

SEAS was designed to see if Vytorin provided any benefit to patients with a disorder called aortic stenosis. In the SEAS trial 102 patients taking Vytorin developed cancer, compared with 67 taking the placebo. Of those, 39 people taking Vytorin died from their cancer, compared with 23 taking placebo. Those findings are considered statistically significant, meaning the odds were less than 5 percent that they were the result of chance. (more…)

No Crib Recall After 2 Babies Strangled

A company is refusing to recall a popular bassinet that has strangled two children. Because of that, all the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is tell parents to stop using the deadly Simplicity Bassinets.

According to the CPSC, Simplicity 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 convertible bassinets contain metal bars spaced farther apart than federal standards allow. Neither of the deadly beds are being recalled because SFCA Inc., the company which purchased all of Simplicity Inc.’s assets at public auction in April 2008, has refused to cooperate with the government and recall the products. According to the CPSC, SFCA maintains that it is not responsible for products previously manufactured by Simplicity Inc. SFCA acquired Simplicity when the company ran into financial difficulty following a crib recall that occurred last summer. (more…)

Petition to Consolidate NuvaRing Lawsuits Granted

A request by plaintiff to consolidate federal NuvaRing lawsuits has been granted. NuvaRing is a hormonal contraceptive device that has been linked to blood clots and deaths.

On August 22, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided that NuvaRing cases now pending in federal court, and those filed in the future,  will be heard in the Eastern District of Missouri before Judge Rodney W. Sippel.  The plaintiffs had suggested in their petition that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri was the particular federal district court that should be assigned the NuvaRing Multidistrict Litigation. The plaintiffs said that one case pending there, Sarah M. Jenn v. Organon International, Inc., et al,. had progressed further in the pre-trial stage of litigation than most if not all other NuvaRing lawsuits filed in federal court. (more…)

Amylin, Eli Lilly Reveal More Byetta Deaths

Yesterday, drug makers Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co revealed that the diabetes drug Byetta had been associated with four more deaths in patients with pancreatitis. Those deaths were not included in a Food & Drug Administration (FDA) notice released last week that revealed two other Byetta-related pancreatitis deaths.

Byetta was approved by the FDA in 2005 to help type 2 diabetics better control blood sugar when other drugs were not adequate. The twice-daily injection is a synthetic form of a lizard hormone that boosts the production of insulin. Insulin is vital to controlling blood sugar levels. (more…)

Warnings for Antipsychotic Drugs Not Heeded

 

Despite warnings that atypical antipsychotic drugs increased death risk when used to treat elderly dementia patients, a Canadian study found that their use may be increasing among older patients. It is estimated that nearly 30 percent of all nursing home patients have received antipsychotic drugs at one time or another. Atypical antipsychotics include drugs like Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa.

In the U.S., both conventional – older medications like Haldol and Thorazine – and atypical antipsychotic drugs were approved to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia. They are not approved for use in the treatment of dementia-related symptoms, which can include forgetfulness, poor memory, and an inability to recognize familiar objects, sounds, or people. However, physicians are free to use approved drugs in any way they see fit – a practice known as off-label use. (more…)

Banned Bus Companies Often Reopen Under New Names

Despite the fact that 3 out of 5 Texas bus companies have had their operating licenses revoked in the past 2 years for safety violations, there is no guarantee that dangerous buses have been taken off the road. Carol Davis, director of the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TXDOT) motor carrier division, told The Houston Chronicle that state officials were still trying to find out how many revoked companies were operating under a different name.

At least one of those rogue bus companies was involved in a fatal bus crash earlier this month. On August 8, a charter bus, owned by a company called Iguala Busmex, was taking a group of Vietnamese Catholics to a religious festival in Missouri. The vehicle blew an illegally treaded tire, skidded off the highway and overturned. In addition to 17 deaths, 38 people were injured. The bus accident was the nation’s deadliest since 2005. (more…)

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