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Whistleblower lawsuits accusing Merck of mumps vaccine deceptions will proceed to court, judge decides

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Two lawsuits accusing Merck & Co. of lying about the efficacy of its mumps vaccines to keep competitors from introducing similar vaccines to the market will be proceed to trial after a federal judge in Pennsylvania refused to dismiss the suits. U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones II ruled that one of the lawsuits, filed by a pair of whistleblowers who worked as virologists for Merck, provided enough evidence that the pharmaceutical giant lied about the vaccine’s efficacy to the federal government. The judge also ruled that the other lawsuit, filed by a group of physicians and direct buyers, could ... Read More

Pfizer skirts patent lawsuit but Lipitor diabetes lawsuits continue to mount

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A U.S. District judge has dismissed an antitrust lawsuit accusing drug makers Pfizer and Ranbaxy Laboratories of conspiring to delay sales of generic versions of their best selling cholesterol-lowering statin drug Lipitor. Judge Peter Sheridan said that the plaintiffs, retailers and distribution companies that bought Lipitor from Pfizer did not provide enough details to convince him that Pfizer and Ranbaxy had violated patent agreements. The lawsuit stems from a 2008 settlement of a patent settlement reached between Pfizer and Ranbaxy regarding Ranbaxy’s plan to make generic versions of Lipitor. Under that agreement, Pfizer agreed to drop damage claims against Ranbaxy, ... Read More

Former NECC pharmacist arrested on criminal charges stemming from fungal meningitis outbreak

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A man was arrested last week as part of an ongoing investigation into the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak linked to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy by the Justice Department’s Civil Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. Glenn Adam Chin was attempting to board a plane to Hong Kong when federal authorities arrested him on one count of mail fraud. According to the Department of Justice, the maximum sentence under the statute is 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection ... Read More

Whistleblower lawsuit targets medical companies, professionals for unnecessary spinal surgeries

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The U.S. government has intervened in a whistleblower’s False Claims Act lawsuit against a Michigan neurosurgeon, a spinal implant company, two distributors, and the companies’ owners, alleging that the defendants conspired to perform medically unnecessary and excessive surgeries on patients for profit. The Justice Department also said that in addition to taking over the whistleblower lawsuit, it has filed a separate complaint against the same defendants for engaging in an illegal kickback scheme that put profits above patients’ needs. The whistleblower lawsuit was filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act by Dr. Caty Savitch and Dr. ... Read More

Judge allows whistleblower’s False Claims Act lawsuit against Novartis to move forward

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A New York federal judge has rejected Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp.’s bid to dismiss a whistleblower lawsuit alleging the company engaged in illegal kickback schemes involving two of its drugs, which resulted in false claims to Medicare and 27 state Medicaid programs. The lawsuit, filed under seal by whistleblower David Kester in 2011, was amended by the U.S. government in January, about nine months after it chose to intervene and take over the case as the U.S. False Claims Act allows it to do. Mr. Kester worked for seven years as an account manager for Novartis, a position that required him ... Read More

Researchers raise safety concerns about nanoparticles in sunscreens, baby power

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Nanoparticles, or the tiny bits of particles produced when a mineral is broken down into smaller and smaller bits, have been present for years in consumer products from baby powder to sunscreens, however they may ultimately do more harm than good. For an example, chemistry professor Jerry Harris with Northwest Nazarene University refers to asbestos, a mineral that became widely used in the United States in the 20th century as insulation because it was affordable and was efficient at absorbing sound when milled down. However, decades later it was discovered that inhaling nanoparticles of asbestos could cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, ... Read More

North Carolina church bus crash victims sue tire maker over alleged tire defect, blowout

North Carolina church bus crash - WBIR image

Survivors of a North Carolina church bus crash joined family members of those killed in a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the tire that is alleged to have caused the crash and the estate of the bus driver, who was also killed. The lawsuit, filed last week in Iredell County Superior Court, alleges that Hankook Tire Co., which made the front left tire that blew out and caused the driver to lose control, is to blame because it “knew or should have known … that the subject tire’s design and/or manufacture resulted in a defective product which exposed vehicle occupants ... Read More

Home Depot confirms malware infiltrated its in-store payment systems in a nationwide data breach

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Home Depot, an American retailer of construction and home improvement products/services, has confirmed a data breach so large that some experts are saying it may even rival Target’s holiday data breach in 2013. Such as with data breaches in the past, the breach was found to have occurred in the company’s payment security systems. “We apologize for the frustration and anxiety this causes our customers, and I want to thank them for their patience and support as we work through this issue,” said Home Depot CEO Frank Blake in a statement released Monday. Home Depot’s announcement claims that no evidence ... Read More

Judge orders mediation to resolve Fosamax lawsuits claiming femur fractures

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A New Jersey federal judge told Merck & Co. that it is time to settle with plaintiffs in multidistrict litigation over femur fractures allegedly caused by its osteoporosis drug Fosamax. About 900 cases are still pending in the litigation, which stated in 2006. U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano ordered Merck and a steering committee representing the plaintiffs to propose a mediator within 30 days, and within five days the parties must provide a written status update regarding the mediation. Merck updated its safety labels in January 2011 to include a warning for potential femur fracture. Barbara Gaynor, whose lawsuit ... Read More

Federal jury hits Ethicon transvaginal mesh with $3.27 million verdict

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Jo Huskey had no idea the turn her life would take after having a 30-minute procedure to implant Ethicon’s transvaginal mesh device in her body to correct urinary incontinence. Plaintiffs attorneys and their witnesses painted a picture for jurors of how the defectively designed device could erode into tissue and puncture neighboring organs causing serious complications from excruciating pain and incontinence to bleeding and infections. The jury responded with a $3.27 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon, finding the bladder sling was defectively designed and the company failed to warn the public of the potential risks. The product ... Read More