New evidence in France of harm from epilepsy drug valproate

BBC, 21 April 2017
Source: BBC News
“A drug given to pregnant women for epilepsy and bipolar disorder caused “serious malformations” in up to 4,100 children, a French study suggests. Introduced in France in 1967, valproate is prescribed widely worldwide. Doctors in France are now advised not to give it to girls, women of childbearing age and pregnant women. Some families of children with birth defects born to women who took the drug while pregnant have sued Sanofi, saying that it did not adequately warn about the risks.”
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GSK must pay $3 million in generic Paxil suicide lawsuit: U.S. jury

Reuters, 20 April 2017
Authors: Nate Raymond, Barbara Grzincic
“GlaxoSmithKline(GSK.L) must pay $3 million to a woman who sued the drug company over the death of her husband, a lawyer who committed suicide after taking a generic version of the antidepressant Paxil, a U.S. jury said on Thursday. A federal judge allowed the victim’s wife to proceed against GSK because it controlled the drug’s design and label, which applied to both the brand-name and generic versions of the drug.”
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Pfizer subpoenaed in U.S. intravenous saline solution probe

Reuters, 19 April 2017
Author: Nate Raymond, Steve Orlofsky
“Pfizer Inc has received grand jury subpoenas from the U.S. Justice Department in connection with an antitrust investigation focusing on drugmakers that market intravenous saline solutions. The probe comes amid a shortage of intravenous saline solutions commonly used to hydrate hospital patients that dates back to late 2013, when drug companies began notifying hospitals that they might experience delivery delays. They said that since the shortage began, prices had risen 200 percent to 300 percent.”
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From physician to felon: A doctor warns how easy it is to be bribed

Washington Post, 12 April 2017
Author: Lenny Bernstein
“In 2014, an internist pleaded guilty to one count of accepting a bribe. She accepted monthly payments of $5,000 to refer patients to Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, for blood tests and other screenings. Such referrals are illegal in medicine because of the potential that doctors will put their financial interests ahead of the needs of their patients. To date, 29 doctors have been convicted in the multiyear investigation. The U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey said the case involves more than $100 million paid to the testing lab by Medicare and private insurance companies.”
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Nurofen manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser fined $6 million for misleading customers after failed High Court appeal

ABC, 5 April 2016
Author: Amy Bainbridge
“The manufacturer of Nurofen has been ordered to pay a $6 million fine for misleading consumers with its specific pain relief range, after the High Court rejected its appeal. The Federal Court found the products were misleading because they all contained the same active ingredient and did the same thing, despite claims they targeted different parts of the body. The company was initially fined $1.7 million, but that was increased to $6 million after the consumer watchdog appealed.”
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Decriminalisation of abortion

BMJ 2017; 356: j1485
Author: Clare Dyer
“In the year that sees the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act 1967, which created a framework for legal termination, campaigners argue that the time has come for abortion to be decriminalised in England and Wales. A coalition of 20 organisations, We Trust Women, says that women who choose abortion should no longer risk life imprisonment under a law dating back to the Victorian era, when only men could vote. The organisations include the Royal College of Midwives and Doctors for a Woman’s Choice on Abortion. The BMA has no policy on decriminalisation but set out possible options in a recent discussion paper.”
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Three women blinded by unapproved stem-cell ‘treatment’ at South Florida clinic

The Washington Post, 15 March 2017
Author: Laurie McGinley
“Three women with macular degeneration became permanently blind after undergoing an unproven stem-cell treatment touted as a clinical trial at a South Florida clinic. Medical experts said the episode raises questions about whether the government and doctors are doing enough to protect patients from the dangers of unapproved therapies.”
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Opioid distributors sued by West Virginia counties hit by drug crisis

Washington Post, 9 March 2017
Authors: Scott Higham, Lenny Bernstein
“A new legal front is opening in the war against the nation’s opioid crisis as attorneys begin to pursue major corporations that distribute prescription painkillers. Attorneys in West Virginia, which has the highest opioid overdose rate in the nation, filed lawsuits in federal court Thursday on behalf of two counties and targeting some of the nation’s largest drug distribution companies.They are seeking billions of dollars in reimbursements for the devastation the drugs have caused in communities across the country.”
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Appeal Court overturns first case based on ruling that patients have right to information on treatment options

BMJ 2017; 356: j992
Author: Clare Dyer
“A pregnant woman was entitled to be told about research indicating that there were risks to her fetus in delaying labour, the Court of Appeal has ruled in an important judgment on patients’ right to information.The three Appeal Court judges held that Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was liable for the serious brain damage suffered by Sebastian Webster as a result of his late delivery 14 years ago, reversing a High Court judgment in favour of the trust.”
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