Friday, March 29, 2019

Agribusiness 'negligent' about herbicide risks

Monsanto loses second consecutive case that finds Roundup causes cancer, this time for $80 million 

A federal jury in San Francisco slapped an $80 million judgment against Monsanto this week for causing a Sonoma man's cancer through Roundup.

The six-person jury deliberated only one day. 

Its verdict, that Monsanto had been "negligent by not using reasonable care" to warn of the risks of the herbicide, was unanimous. 

Edwin Hardeman
The award against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer AG, which intends to appeal, included $75 million in punitive damages, $5 million in compensation and $200,000 for medical expenses for 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman, a retiree who'd contracted non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a blood cancer, after more than two decades of using Roundup to kill weeds on his 56-acre property.

According to an online story by Amanda Bronstad in's The Record, Hardeman's attorneys, Aimee Wagstaff and Jennifer Moore, issued a statement after the verdict asserting that "it is clear from Monsanto's actions that it does not care whether Roundup causes cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about Roundup."

The lawyers noted that "it speaks volumes that not one Monsanto employee, past or present, came live to trial to defend Roundup's safety or Monsanto's actions," the article continues.

Bayer, through a statement, claimed that "over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide…support the safety of our glyphosate-band herbicides," which the company continues to insist "are not carcinogenic."

The World Health Organization's cancer arm, however, has certified that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans."

The federal verdict, which may be as bellwether for 800 other lawsuits against Monsanto, follows a case in a San Francisco Superior Court in which jurors awarded $289 million, which was cut to $78 million by the judge.

Another case against the agribusiness was scheduled to start today in Alameda County Superior Court. Plaintiffs are Alva and Alberta Pilliod, both of whom contracted non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after decades of using Roundup.

Information on other verdicts against major corporations can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

2nd major ruling against Monsanto weedkiller

Unanimous U.S. court verdict labels Roundup as major factor in Sonoma man's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma 

In what might be a bellwether case, a six-person federal jury in San Francisco unanimously found this week that Roundup, Monsanto's weedkiller, was a substantial factor in a Santa Rosa man's cancer.

Or at least one active chemical ingredient in it — glyphosate — was.

The case could affect hundreds of others: Monsanto faces 9,000 similar lawsuits in the United States alone.

According to a story by Sam T. Levin in The Guardian, the 70-year-old plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman, said he'd used the herbicide for nearly three decades, had at least once gotten it on his skin, and "alleged that his exposure to [it] caused him to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma [NHL], cancer that affects the immune system."

In a second phase, the jury still must weigh liability and damage.

Hardeman, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2015, has used Roundup to control weeds and poison ivy on his properties since the '80s.

A BuzzFeed News story notes that "Jennifer Moore, an attorney for the Sonoma County man, said Hardeman used Roundup regularly, spraying approximately 6,000 gallons of the herbicide over the course of 26 years."

The so-called bellwether trial, which means the verdict could possibly affect future litigation, followed a California state court verdict last August that Roundup caused the terminal cancer of Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper.

That jury, Levin's piece asserts, "said Monsanto failed to warn Johnson of Roundup's health hazards and 'acted with malice or oppression.'"

It awarded Johnson $289 million in damages, although that was later slashed to $78 million.

Monsanto, predictably, has appealed.

The Guardian story notes, however, that "Hardeman's trial has been more limited in scope. While Johnson's attorneys argued that Monsanto had 'bullied' scientists and fought to suppress negative studies about its product, the federal judge barred Hardeman's lawyers  from discussing Monsanto's alleged influence on research and regulations during the hearings."

Judge Vince Chhabria
Judge Vince Chhabria did, on the other hand, verbally flog the company on a procedural order during the trial by saying, "Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue."

Despite the latest verdict, Monsanto, which has been bought by Bayer for $63 billion, continues "to argue that Roundup is safe to use and does not cause NHL."

The Hardeman trial is in effect a test case for almost 800 others nationwide that were consolidated. At least six more trials, according to MarketWatch, are expected to start this year in federal and state courts.

Details on other court cases about products that cause disease can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Stop sugary drinks and lessen your risks 46%

Yale study finds daily diet soda might lower risk of colon cancer recurrence — and death

Drinking diet soda every day can be particularly beneficial for those who've beaten colon cancer.

A new study by Yale University researchers, according to a story by Nyssa Kruse of The Hartford Courant a while ago, found that patients who drank it "were less likely to see a recurrence and less likely to die than those who didn't drink diet soda."

The study analyzed 1,018 patients, determining that "those who drank one or more 12-ounce artificially sweetened drink a day saw a 46 percent improvement in risk."
Dr. Charles S. Fuchs
Kruse's story quotes Dr. Charles S. Fuchs, director of the Yale Cancer Center, as calling the findings "exciting" — after noting that "artificially sweetened drinks have a checkered reputation in the public because of purported health risks that have never really been documented." 

The researchers attributed half the benefit of diet drinks "to patients substituting diet sodas for drinks full of sugar," the Times story indicated.

In a separate cancer study, unrelated to soda, Yale researchers found cancer patients who used complementary treatments (such as yoga, acupuncture and homeopathy) alongside traditional treatments such as chemotherapy "were more likely to die than those only using traditional treatments" — because they'd be likely to refuse a component of traditional treatment.

Details on other cancer research can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Did patients get risky cancer pain drugs?

Documents given to N.Y. Times describe federal failure to block restricted opioid prescriptions

When risky cancer pain drugs were prescribed for patients of other diseases who couldn't tolerate them, the federal government did little or nothing to stop the practice.

That, at least, is the conclusion of  a recent story by Emily Baumgaertner in The New York Times.

Baumgaertner's piece maintains that although the fast-acting class of fentanyl drugs had  been approved only for cancer patients with high opioid tolerance, it was "prescribed frequently to patients with back pain and migraines, putting them at high risk of accidental overdose and death, according to documents collected by the Food and Drug Administration."

The FDA had established "a distribution oversight program in 2011 to curb inappropriate use of the dangerous medication, but entrusted enforcement to a group of pharmaceutical companies that make and sell the drugs," the article asserts.

The Times also notes that "some of the companies have been sued for illegally promoting other uses for the medications and in one case even bribing doctors to prescribe higher doses."

Some 5,000 page of documents were provided the Times after being "obtained by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health through the Freedom of Information Act."

The story about the so-called offline prescribing quotes Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an opioid policy researcher at Brandeis University who wasn't involved in the investigation, as saying, "They had the fox guarding the heinous, people were getting hurt — and the FDA sat by and watched this happen."

FDA officials counter that stance by claiming they had only piecemeal data, which "made it difficult for the agency to measure potential harm to patients."

Dr. Janet Woodcock
One official — Dr. Janet Woodcock, the director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA, was specifically quoted as believing a stricter oversight program "would be 'extremely onerous.'"

She contends, furthermore, that "all drugs have risks and cause harm."

The class of  drugs in question "contain a narcotic up to 50 times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times stronger than morphine," the Times story indicates.

The drugs are expensive. One prescription for a month's worth, Baumgaertner's story says, "can cost more than $30,000."

Details on investigations into other drugs can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.