Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Agribusiness giant to appeal cancer decisions

Oakland jury hits Monsanto with a $2 billion verdict because Roundup weedkiller caused lymphoma

Although an Oakland jury awarded a couple more than $2 billion this week in their suit claiming a Monsanto weedkiller caused their cancer, the verdict is expected to be severely trimmed.

The large punitive damages, in the third consecutive trial that ruled against Bayer AG's glyphosate-based Roundup since August, "is likely to be reduced due to U.S. Supreme Court rulings that limit the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages to 9:1," according to a story by Tina Bellon of Reuters.
Alberta and Alva Pilliod. Photo courtesy
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman

The jury in this case awarded only $55 million in compensatory damages to Alva and Alberta Pilliod, both of whom had contracted non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after using the weedkiller between 1975 and 2011.

Each were awarded $1 billion in punitive damages. 

The Reuters story reports that Alva was awarded $18 million in compensatory damages by the state court jury in Alameda, California; Alberta, his wife, $37 million — because Roundup purportedly was "defectively designed, that the company failed to warn of the herbicide's cancer risk and that the company acted negligently"

Bayer, which faces more than 13,400 U.S. lawsuits over Roundup's alleged cancer risk, had acquired the agribusiness giant Monsanto for $63 billion last year. An appeal is planned.

The Reuters story notes that Alberta Pilliod "called on Bayer to add a warning label to Roundup, saying she and her husband would not have used the product had it alerted them to a chance of risk. 'We've been fighting cancer for more than nine years now and we can't do any of the things we wanted to do. We really resent Monsanto for that,' Pilliod said."

The two prior San Francisco jury verdicts against Monsanto triggered steep declines in shares of Bayer; this decision is likely to cause a further dip. The earlier litigation wiped out some $33 billion from Bayer's market value.

The next suit to be adjudicated will be in Missouri state court in August, the first time a jury outside of California will hear a Roundup case. The trial will take place in St. Louis County, where Monsanto’s former headquarters are located. 

Lawsuits against the company so far have been based on the 2015 conclusion by the World Health Organization's cancer arm that classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogen to humans."

More information on verdicts in cases against manufacturers can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer,"4 a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Feds ignore complaints, fears of many women

FDA declines to ban breast implant that's linked to cancer but intends to increase information about risks

The FDA has decided not to ban a type of breast implant linked to a rare cancer — at least for now.

According to a story by Laurie McKinley in last week's editions of The Washington Post, the decision, which came a month after a dramatic hearing in which many women expressed fears, complained about the implants and called on the Food and Drug Administration to execute such a ban, the agency plans instead to "increase efforts to collect and disseminate information about risks involving the device."

A joint statement by Amy Abernethy, FDA principal deputy commissioner, and Jeff Shuren, director of the agency's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, maintains that the FDA doesn't believe the textured implant "meets the legal standard for being banned at this time, based on available data and information."

Other countries have either banned or restricted sales of similar products "because of concerns about what's called breast implant-associated anapestic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL," McKinley's story contends.

The FDA also notes that "while textured implants make up as much as 80 percent of the market share in some other countries, they represent only 10 percent or less of the implants sold in this country," the Post article continues.

Federal officials also say they don't have "definitive evidence" demonstrating that the implants cause  "'breast implant illness,' a constellation of auto-immune problems that includes joint and muscle pain and allergies and fatigue — a topic that was repeatedly raised at the March hearing." But they do add, according to McKinley's piece, that evidence supports "that some women experience systemic symptoms that may resolve when their breast implants are removed."

Diana Zukerman, PhD
That admission has led Diana Zukerman, a PhD and president of the National Center for Health Research, to claim it's "the closest the FDA has come to acknowledging breast implant illness," which, she insists, is "definitely progress."

Historically, the agency tends to be reluctant to ban devices — having done so only twice, with powdered surgeons' gloves and prosthetic hair fibers.

The FDA has, however, "said it is considering requiring implants to carry what's called a boxed warning — the agency's strongest safety warning. And it may require doctors and patients to sign checklists of risks to make sure women have the necessary information to make an informed decision."

McKinley's story states that "bout 400,000 women a year get implants in the United States — 75 percent for cosmetic reasons and most of the rest for breast reconstruction about cancer surgery."

For more information on implants and reconstruction, check out "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.