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Shire Pharmaceuticals Pays $350 Million To Settle ‘Landmark’ False Claims Act Suit

Pills - Stethoscope on Money

Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC and subsidiaries of the Ireland-based drug maker have entered into a “landmark” settlement with the U.S. government, agreeing to pay $350 million to resolve a series of whistleblower lawsuits alleging the company used kickbacks and unlawful tactics to boost sales of its Dermagraft treatment for diabetic foot ulcers. According to Benjamin Mizer, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department’s civil division, the settlement is the largest False Claims Act recovery in the U.S. in a kickback case involving a medical device. Allegations resolved by the settlement were brought in six lawsuits filed under the qui tam, ... Read More

Three Utility Workers Perish In Key Largo Trench

trench ladder - OSHA photo

Three utility workers died Monday morning in a Key Largo, Fla., subdivision after being sent into an underground drainage trench to inspect a dip in a newly paved Key Largo road. The workers, identified as Elway Gray, 34, of Fort Lauderdale; Louis O’Keefe, 49, of Little Torch Key; and Robert Wilson, 24, of Summerland Key, were employed by D.N. Higgins, which had been contracted by Monroe County. According to the Keys Reporter, the men entered a 15-foot drainage hole to inspect the dip in the road when they were overcome by a mixture of hydrogen sulfide and methane gas. A ... Read More

Roofing Contractor Faces Federal Lawsuit For Firing Whistleblower

whistleblower retaliation

The U.S. Department of Labor is suing a Tampa, Fla., roofing contractor and its owner for violating federal whistleblower protections when they fired their safety manager after he cooperated with an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection. Jasper Roofing Contractors Inc. and owner/chief executive Brian Wedding violated the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act’s whistleblower provisions by retaliating against the manager, OSHA said in a news release. The agency accuses Jasper Roofing of subjecting the manager to repeated retaliatory acts that ultimately resulted in his wrongful termination after he provided documentation to OSHA regarding the company’s history of safety ... Read More

New Railroad Crossing Safety Ad Targets Male Drivers

railroad tracks

The Department of Transportation is taking aim at young male drivers with a graphic new video showing what happens when a passenger vehicle fails to yield for a train. The ad, produced as a collaborative effort between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), shows a freight train plowing into the side of a SUV stopped on the tracks. The train brakes, but not soon enough to prevent the SUV from being demolished. But that it is the point the ad conveys: “Stop! Trains Can’t.” U.S. regulators made the ad because many drivers don’t ... Read More

Volkswagen Executive Arrested For Duping U.S. In Emission Cheat Probe

VW consumer fraud

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) authorities arrested a Volkswagen executive in Florida Saturday, accusing him of conspiracy to defraud the United States by blocking regulators from discovering that diesel-powered VW vehicles had been programmed to cheat emissions tests. According to the New York Times, the FBI accuses Oliver Schmidt, a German national, of misleading auto regulators after a University of West Virginia study in early 2014 uncovered discrepancies in VW diesel car emissions. The former top VW emissions compliance manager for Volkswagen in the U.S., Mr. Schmidt allegedly played a central role in trying to convince investigators that excessive emissions ... Read More

New child restraint law takes effect in California

car seat, rear facing - Flickr

The new year means a new child restraint law takes effect in California with the goal of making children younger than age 2 safer when traveling the state’s roadways. An update to California law effective Jan. 1, 2017, now requires children younger than 2 to be in rear-facing car seats unless the child weighs 40-plus pounds or is more than 40 inches tall. Three states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Oklahoma, have similar requirements to align with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP revised its recommendations in 2011 from keeping children younger than 1 year old or ... Read More

El Faro Communications reveal Panicked Crew As Captain Maintained Path Toward Hurricane

El Faro

Panicked crewmembers on the doomed El Faro cargo ship urged Captain Michael Davidson to change course to avoid a powerful hurricane, but transcripts of shipboard audio released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Dec. 13 reveal the captain twice ignored their warnings and took the ship on a collision course with the storm. Part of the transcripts depicts frenzied chaos and despair as some of the 33 crew members realize their fate on the morning of Oct. 1, 2015. An exchange between the captain and one crew member attempting to reach the bridge in the ship’s final moments ends ... Read More

Consumer says dietary supplement’s ‘Made in USA’ claims are deceptive

american-flag

A woman is suing a dietary supplement manufacturer in Florida federal court alleging the company deceptively marketed products as “Made in the USA” along with a picture of the American flag on the label, when the main ingredient was sourced from outside the country. Jennifer Sweat claims that she purchased a dietary supplement called Ester-C from Nature’s Bounty, formerly known as NBTY Inc., from a Wal-Mart store in Florida on several occasions in 2015 and 2016. The supplement was advertised to improve immune health. She says the bottle’s label had a picture of the American flag on the back with ... Read More

Half a Million North Texas Residents At Risk of Takata Airbag Injuries, Death, Officials Warn

Honda Takata airbags

City and community leaders across northern Texas have formed a movement urging motorists with vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recall to get their vehicles fixed without delay. The group of leaders met at Dallas City Hall Monday to kick off Airbag Recall: North Texas, an outreach that aims to raise awareness of the Takata airbag recall across the northern part of the state, where they estimate as many as half a million vehicles may be affected. Japanese supplier Takata and several automakers have recalled about 70 million faulty airbag inflators worldwide, with more than half of those, about 42 ... Read More

Harvard Health recaps top health and medicine stories of 2016

checklist - MC900439824

Harvard has named the top health and medicine stories of 2016, spanning the Zika virus, new health guidelines, updated Nutrition Facts labels, and new medications. Here’s a preview of their list: The Zika Virus – When an outbreak of mosquito-borne Zika virus erupted in Brazil last year, the United States braced itself to feel its own effects. The virus, which can cause neurological problems in adults, is blamed for causing the birth defect microcephaly in babies exposed in utero. While the outbreak in the U.S. is not as large or dire as it is in Brazil, the Centers for Disease ... Read More