VW Faces Massive Payout

VWAutomobile manufacturer Volkswagen has been buried in a huge story of the company cheating on their emissions testing of their diesel cars. VW has agreed to pay U.S. owners and regulators, over $15 billion as a settlement in the case.

According to Reuters, Under Volkswagen’s proposed settlement of U.S. civil claims published on Tuesday, the German group has pledged to compensate 475,000 owners of VW diesel-powered cars there, giving them the option to sell their vehicles back to VW or have them fixed. Most U.S. owners will get $5,100 to $10,000, based on the pre-scandal value of their vehicles, but spending on buybacks could be much less if owners opt for repairs instead.

The process for the automotive giant to recover from this scandal will be lengthy and extremely costly.To go along with the $15 billion going to consumers, there is also a pending $45 billion penalty to be handed down by the Environmental Protection Agency. It has also been proposed that VW pay out settlements to their European customers as well, which according to Bloomberg could be an additional $43 billion.

It will be interesting to see how long this issue drags on for. There are a lot of moving parts, and people involved. Another thing to keep an eye on is how Volkswagen can move on from something like this, as well as how their sales numbers look moving forward.

 

 

Nexium Health Risks

NexiumPopular over-the-counter heartburn drug Nexium, has made news recently over possible harmful side-effects. Multiple lab tests have revealed that the drug can lead to damage of arteries as well as an increased risk of heart attack or heart disease.

According to a CBS news report, AstraZeneca, the maker of Nexium, responded with a statement noting that the study was conducted in a laboratory setting, “not in humans within a controlled clinical trial. Therefore, conclusions around cause and effect cannot be made.

In a CNN report it was stated that patients who took PPIs (like Nexium) had a 96% increased risk of developing kidney failure and a 28% increased risk of chronic kidney disease compared to the patients who took the histamine H2 receptor blockers (another form of heartburn medication.)

AstraZeneca also stated that the drug is typically safe to use when taken in the prescribed doses, however many people do not follow the recommended doses as printed on the label. Roughly 1 in every 14 Americans use some form of heartburn medication, and many people end up overusing the drugs over a long period of time.

This continues to be a somewhat confusing topic due to the fact that it has not been proven that Nexium is the cause of the damaged arteries, but with all of the speculation there is cause for concern. The FDA has called for increased testing on all heartburn medications to ensure the products are safe, and the side-effects are properly labeled on the packaging.

There have not been any lawsuits filed over this issue, but if it is revealed that Nexium is linked to heart problems, there could be cases to come.

Jeep Transmission Kills Hollywood Star

Jeep27 year old actor Anton Yelchin, known for his role as Chekov in the new series of Star Trek movies, was killed when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his driveway pinning him against the brick wall and fence in front of his Los Angeles home.

The car featured an “e-shift” transmission, which has been an increasingly popular trend in the automotive industry, especially in luxury models. The reason for these new shifting methods are that they take up less space, allowing room for bigger cup holders and more buttons. These new e-shift transmissions can be confusing for many drivers because it lacks the typical grooves and sensation of moving the car into park, drive or reverse. This unfamiliarity among drivers has resulted in many injuries, and in Yelchin’s case, death.

According to a CBS News report, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating more than 850,000 vehicles, mostly 2014 and 2015 Grand Cherokees equipped with e-shift. Government investigators found it “…is not intuitive and provides poor tactile and visual feedback to the driver, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection.” That investigation claims reports of 121 crashes, resulting in several people being hospitalized.

Also included in the recall were the 2012 to 2014 Dodge Charger and the 2012 to 2014 Chrysler 300, both of which are equipped with the same shifting technology.chrysler

According to a NBC News report, Gary Titus of Canton, Massachusetts, owner of a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, said he has experienced this “mis-shifting” on “multiple occasions” — including one incident that sounds eerily similar to Yelchin’s. “The worst one,” said the 59-year-old, “was when I got pinned between the car and the garage.”

This shifting malfunction is a problem that the Fiat Chrysler automotive group is working hard to address, as they have even gone as far as taking the technology out of their newer models to avoid further accidents.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by poor handling of a Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge recall, visit our recall page.

 

Kia Faces Minivan Recall

KiaAutomobile manufacturer Kia, is recalling nearly 100,000 of the company’s Sedona minivans with model years spanning from 2006 to 2012. The recall is in place due to some suspension parts that are susceptible to rust damage when they come into contact with salt used on icy roads in the winter.

The recall will effect drivers in the following cold-weather states: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

According to a Chron article, the same recall problem was addressed in 2013.  2006 and 2007 model year vehicles will have their suspension parts replaced by the company, while the remaining vehicles will receive an anti-rust coating on the parts to protect them from any further damage.

Kia will reportedly inform consumers of their recall on July 25th.

Panera Facing Peanut Butter Lawsuit

paneraPanera, a chain bakery/restaurant popular across the United States, has been cast in some negative light through the media lately. The company faces a lawsuit due to an allergy mishap at a store in Massachusetts.

Elissa and John Russo ordered their 6 year-old daughter a grilled cheese online, and explicitly stated the child’s severe allergy to peanut butter. When the little girl became extremely ill after eating the sandwich, the parents knew something had gone wrong. Supposedly, a language barrier caused the workers at the store to put 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on the sandwich, causing the allergic reaction that hospitalized the girl for several days.

In an article from The Daily Meal, the Russo’s stated they have chosen to sue the Panera New England franchise for negligence, saying the sandwich chain, “engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices by adding peanut butter to the plaintiff’s grilled cheese sandwich knowing that [she] has a life-threatening peanut allergy.”

With an increase in awareness of allergies it is surprising to see such an event occur, especially one where the instructions were explicitly defined. The details of the lawsuit have not been released, but it will be interesting to see how the company handles this incident. If people with allergies to certain foods do not feel safe eating at Panera, their company will lose a large amount of money.

Opioid Overdose Claims a Legend

opioidReports have been released showing legendary pop star Prince, died of an overdose of the painkiller Fentanyl. The drug, which can be found on the black market, is more than 100 times more potent than morphine, making it the strongest opioid available.

“Fentanyl is a very dangerous opioid, whether you’re taking it as a prescription or you’re mixing it with black-market heroin,” said addiction specialist Andrew Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, in a USA Today article.

“Celebrity overdoses are just the tip of the iceberg of an epidemic,” Kolodny said. “Many of these deaths are occurring in people who are not your typical drug abuser. They are suffering from chronic pain and they are becoming addicted to legitimately prescribed medication.”

Prince’s death is just one in an increasing trend of opioid-related fatalities in America. According to a CDC report, Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids. The alarming growth of opioid addictions and deaths has even been a topic in the presidential race, and continues to be a major topic in politics as a whole.

One startling point made in a Washington Post article is that so many people are dying of drug overdoses that it’s easing the shortage of donated organs. While there are many factors, whether accidental or intentional, that contribute to the number of overdoses in this country, there must be more effort put in to stop this growing epidemic.

In the past year, google searches containing the word “opioid” have increased continuously, and they grew even more when Prince’s death was linked to the painkillers. The awareness of the problem has grown across the country, however a solution has not been found. Hopefully there can be a solution to rehabilitate addicts, and prevent future overdoses from occurring.

 

Airbag Recall Looms Over Takata

Takata

The automotive industry has been buzzing lately surrounding the massive airbag crisis caused by Takata, the worlds largest airbag and seat belt supplier. The airbags installed in cars from 2002-2015 have been reported to deploy explosively, injuring hundreds and causing 10 casualties in the U.S.

According to a Consumer Reports article, Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Volkswagen confirm in a report from Florida Senator Bill Nelson that they are selling some new vehicles with airbags that contain Takata’s ammonium nitrate-based propellant in driver and passenger frontal airbag inflators without a chemical drying agent, also known as a desiccant. These vehicles will have to be recalled by 2018.

The estimated number of recalls needed by 2019 is over 75 million vehicles ranging from 14 different automotive manufacturers. These enormous number of recalls is not only harmful to consumers, it also hurts the entire automotive industry. However, with increased scrutiny being focused on the quality and safety of the airbags, they should become safer in the future so these recalls do not continue to occur.

On April 7, 2016 a 17 year old girl in Texas was killed when shrapnel from an exploding Takata airbag impaled her neck. The fatality marked the 10th life lost due to the malfunctioning airbags. To date, over 8 million airbags have been replaced, but there are still millions more that need to be addressed. The process of replacing all of the airbags that need recalls could take many years, and new cases of faulty airbags continue to be reported frequently. This crisis could open the market for new manufacturers to dethrone Takata as the top dog in the airbag field moving forward. It will be very interesting to see how Takata handles this scenario, their stock prices have plummeted since the reports came out. This story is one that will continue to be in the news as more information comes out.  Infographic-Air bags

Purdue Pharma Under Pressure

PurduePurdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin, are facing some increased scrutiny from the FDA over their marketing of the popular painkiller. Since the release of OxyContin, the packaging has always said “12-hour relief” however in some patients the effects of the drug begin to wear off after about eight hours. This leads to many patients having to take more pills each day than what they were originally prescribed. Opioid addiction is increasing across the country and Purdue is being blamed as one of the leading causes.

In a large-scale investigation of the pharmaceutical company by the LA Times, it was revealed that they knew the effects of OxyContin did not always last 12 hours. The main reasoning for the company’s false advertising was because the 12-hour relief claim gave the drug a large competitive advantage over other, less expensive drugs. In the late 1990’s, doctors began prescribing OxyContin at shorter intervals so Purdue sent a team of sales executives all across the country to convince doctors to stick with the 12-hour doses. According to the LA Times report, More than half of long-term OxyContin users are on doses that public health officials consider dangerously high, according to an analysis of nationwide prescription data conducted for The Times.

In a statement released by Purdue the company had this to say, “Nearly a decade ago, the FDA cited a lack of clinical evidence when it formally rejected the ‘fundamental premise’ that patients receiving OxyContin at intervals more frequent than twice-daily are at increased risk of ‘side effects and serious adverse reactions.’ In doing so, the agency reinforced the twice-daily labeling for OxyContin. The LAT omitted the findings of this report from its story.”

This story will be one that continues to develop and as news comes out, lawsuits may follow. The entire medical world will be following these developments as it could change the market for painkillers in the United States and other countries as well.

Addicts Suing Doctors

Addiction to painkillers, and other opioid drugs, is a serious problem in the state of West Virginia. According to a CBS News report, West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the nation. Each year doctors write the equivalent of one painkiller prescription for every man, woman and child in this state of 1.8 million people. The painkiller problem has become so severe that state legislature has stepped in to make changes, and has led to the addicts suing doctors.

More than 30 addicts have sued their doctors for enabling their addiction. Many of these patients suffered from work related injuries and had to rely on painkillers in order to continue working.

Addicts suing doctorsPatients are not the only ones filing lawsuits regarding this subject. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a lawsuit against McKesson Corporation, a prescription drug distributor, for allegedly failing to identify, detect, report and help stop the flood of suspicious drug orders into the state.

According to a CBS San Francisco article, The DEA, along with six states, sued McKesson (a San Francisco based company) in 2008 for supplying hundreds of suspicious hydrocodone orders to rogue pharmacies. McKesson settled, paying more than $13 million in fines and agreeing to closely monitor their pill supply.

In research of McKesson’s involvement in West Virginia, it shows that more than 100 million doses of opioids to a state where the population is 1.8 million. This egregious amount of drugs being sent to a state that has the most overdose related deaths in the country is what has put the company in hot water. McKesson could face tens of millions in legal fees, but for a company that makes over a billion dollars that is simply pocket change.

Hopefully the changes made by the legislation in West Virginia can help the addicts recover and find the treatment they need.