Lawyer Resources for Dangerous Drugs

Drugs that are dangerousAccording to the AMDA (the American Medical Directors Association), studies suggest that adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are common amongst nursing home residents. Even more problematic is the fact that these problems are often attributed to other conditions or go unnoticed altogether. Many of the problems result because of drug interactions. In fact, less than 10% of all ADR are because of an allergic reaction that the patient has to an ingredient.

What are the risk factors associated with the elderly and dangerous drugs?

A number of different factors determine whether a nursing home resident is at risk of experiencing an adverse drug reaction. These include:

  • Drug dosage and the use of multiple drugs
  • The presence of co-morbidities – conditions or diseases that coexist with a primary condition or disease
  • The resident’s medical condition
  • The pharmacological properties of the prescribed drug(s)

A growing problem

Even though elderly over 65 only comprise 15% of the U.S. population, they take approximately 33% of the prescription drugs in the nation. They are also far more likely to take multiple prescription medications than younger people are and age-related changes in both kidney function and metabolism may lead to adverse drug reactions.

Many of the following prescription drugs cause problems with alertness and thinking, especially amongst the elderly. Add in the fact that these drugs are far more likely to interfere with other prescription medications and you will understand why taking the following sedating drugs will likely increase the risk of falling for nursing home patients[G1] .

Muscle relaxers

  • Robaxin (methocarbamol)
  • Skelaxin (metaxalone)
  • Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine)
  • Parafon Forte (chlorzoxazone)
  • Soma (carisoprodol)

Mood-altering drugs

  • Meprobomate (barbiturate similar to phenobarbital)
  • Atarax (hydroxyzine)
  • Dalmane (flurazepam)
  • Adapin and Sinequan (doxepin)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Elavil (amitriptyline)

Some examples of potentially dangerous standard drugs for the elderly

  • Valium (diazepam) – Stays in the patient’s system a prolonged period of time. May cause confusion, dizziness, and lethargy.
  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine) – May lead to blurry vision, dry mouth, urinary difficulties, anxiety, confusion, dizziness, and lethargy.
  • Iron supplements – If taken unnecessarily it may lead to iron toxicity.
  • Advil / Motrin (ibuprofen) – These and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs might lead to the development of bleeding ulcers.
  • Tylenol PM (acetaminophen and diphenhydramine) – Acetaminophen may cause liver damage when taking more than 4 grams a day. Diphenhydramine could lead to blurry vision, dry mouth, urinary difficulties, anxiety, confusion, dizziness, and lethargy.

Some symptoms to be aware of

As you can understand, with so many different types of dangerous drugs that may cause ADRs with the elderly, it can be next to impossible to narrow down specific adverse drug reactions. However, a brief overview could help save a life and help you identify possible issues.

Symptoms of mild ADR include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Itching or rash
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness

Symptoms of severe ADR include:

  • Anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening allergic reaction
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Liver or kidney damage
  • Bleeding ulcers

What you should expect from the nursing home staff

It is important that nursing home staff take the necessary precautions to ensure that its residents are not exposed to the dangers of a hazardous drug combination. It is not only important that the nursing home staff understand when ADR’s might occur, but is also trained to recognize ADR symptoms and knows what action is appropriate in that event.

Attorneys for nursing home patients who have been harmed due to recalled medications or have suffered an adverse drug reaction

Since nursing home patients are reliant upon nursing home staff and physicians for all of their medications, when a patient is harmed by a an adverse reaction or interaction between several drugs, it is almost uniformly the fault of the facility. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers understands how susceptible nursing home patients are an will thoroughly investigate the circumstances to determine who the responsible parties are. Our attorneys will then fully prosecute the case to the fullest extent of the law. Together we can make a difference!

dementia patient.jpgIf you ask government inspectors, the answer is a resounding— YES.  

Today, physciatric drugs– and anti-psychotic drugs in particular– are prescribed to an astounding 14% of all nursing home patients.  The bulk of the psychiatric drugs are administered to patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s in order to calm their potentially aggressive behaviors.

Despite the prevalence of this practice, anti-psychotic drugs such as AstraZeneca’s Seroquel and Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa have been associated with an increased mortality rate in seniors.  Other documented side-effects include: elevated blood sugar levels, increased cholesterol and weight gain.

actosWhen Robert Bettorf started taking Actos in 2007, he thought it might help control his Type II diabetes. Instead, he got cancer.

Bettorf is one of several people to recently come forward with allegations that Takeda Pharmaceuticals Actos drug directly causes bladder cancer. He joins Nancy Rios, 54, of Reading, Pennsylvania, who says she now faces the possibility of losing her bladder. And Tommy Thompson, of New Orleans, Louisiana, who filed suit in federal court on September 9.

Like many around the country, Bettorf says his cancer was caused by long-term exposure to Actos. Recent FDA studies have indicated that those who take Actos for 12 months or longer are at a 40 percent higher risk for developing bladder cancer.

bloodsugarmonitor.jpgA man with Type 2 diabetes has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the manufacturer of popular diabetes drug Actos following his development of bladder cancer after taking the drug.

The lawsuit alleges that Actos’ manufacturer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America (and other entities including: Takeda Global Research & Development Center Inc., Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company Ltd., Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Takeda San Diego Inc., Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Inc and Eli Lilly and Company), was negligent for not providing any warnings regarding the increased bladder cancer risk associated with Actos use.

Connection between Actos and bladder cancer

If you ever needed proof that there’s no such thing as a ‘safe’ drug, check out a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine conducted by Daniel Solomon.  

The results of the study were discussed in a New York Times article, “Narcotic Painkillers May Pose Danger to Elderly Patient, Study Says,” and the overwhelming conclusion was that narcotic painkillers put seniors at an increased risk for: bone fractures, heart attack and death compared to milder, over-the-counter pain relief medications such as Advil and Motrin.

Use Of Narcotic Painkillers Are Causing Unnecessary Harm To ElderlyIn reaching its conclusions, the study analyzed the records from a group of women who were diagnosed with different types of arthritis, using varying types of pain medication, over a six-year period.  

On November 19, 2010 the FDA ordered the popular painkillers Darvocet & Darvon to be pulled from the market.

The decision to pull Darvocet & Darvon came after exhaustive studies and feedback from panels assembled by the FDA to evaluate the drugs safety. The results followed careful evaluation of advisory panel findings and data from scientific studies that concluded that the drugs should be pulled from the market because of the strong correlation to QT internal abnormalities in the heart.

Picture-514In a previous post, I talked about Reglan (Metoclopramide), a drug commonly used to relieve heartburn in patients with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or to relieve symptoms of slow stomach emptying for people with diabetes. Well, it turns out that this drug can also cause tardive dyskinesia (TD). Tardive dyskinesia is abnormal muscle movements, mostly in the face muscles, that you have no control over. TD has no treatment, and the symptoms might not go away even you stop taking raglan.

Clearly, TD is not a minor side effect. The FDA took action requiring manufacturers of the drug to add a “black box” warning about the drug’s risks. The U.S. National Library of Medicine – National Institute of Health Website now includes an IMPORTANT WARNING in its information for metoclopramide (better known as Reglan) –

“Taking metoclopramide may cause you to develop a muscle problem called tardive dyskinesia. If you develop tardive dyskinesia, you will move your muscles, especially the muscles in your face in unusual ways. You will not be able to control or stop these movements. Tardive dyskinesia may not go away even after you stop taking metoclopramide. The longer you take metoclopramide, the greater the risk that you will develop tardive dyskinesia. Therefore, your doctor will probably tell you not to take metoclopramide for longer than 12 weeks. The risk that you will develop tardive dyskinesia is also greater if you are taking medications for mental illness, if you have diabetes, or if you are elderly, especially if you are a woman. Call your doctor immediately if you develop any uncontrollable body movements, especially lip smacking, mouth puckering, chewing, frowning, scowling, sticking out your tongue, blinking, eye movements, or shaking arms or legs.

Picture-3211New reports to be issued following a Senate investigation and results from a clinical trial appear to further solidify the dangers associated with Avandia (rosiglitazone).  As cited by The New York Times, the reports conclude that if Avandia patients switched to a similar diabetes drug, Actos, approximately 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure could be avoided every month.

These recent studies are just the latest in an extensive series of studies that have been critical of both the side-effects associated with Avandia and GlaxoSmithKline’s knowledge of the health risks when it aggressively marketed the drug.

The Senate investigation revealed:

In the wake yesterday’s announcement from GlaxoSmithKline that they will stop the manufacture, distribution and advertising of their well-known denture adhesive product Super PoliGrip, we have been inundated with calls from concerned clients and their families who are concerned about the health risks and their legal rights.Picture-361

At the heart of the matter is zinc, a metallic chemical element, that is commonly used in everyday products from sunscreens to vitamins.  With respect to denture adhesives, like Super Poligrip and Fixodent, some recent studies have demonstrated that the zinc found in denture adhesives may leach out into the body resulting in elevated zinc levels.

Elevated zinc levels in the body are believed to be responsible for neurological problems and neuropathy.  A blood test can confirm if the zinc levels have reached toxic levels.  Unfortunately, research has also demonstrated that the effects of zinc poisoning may be permanent and irreversible.

iStock_000002187860XSmallThrough no fault of their own, many nursing home patients continue to receive medications known to potentially cause serious injury or death.  Many of these situations involve claims for damage against the drug manufacturers themselves.  In other cases, the prescribing physician may be partially responsible for failing to monitor the patient.

In 1988 the FDA approved the use of Gadolinium for use as a contrast agent in MRI’s. Contrast agents help in enhancing the clarity of MRI images. Gadolinium bonds with damaged or diseased tissues giving doctors a much clearer picture of organs that they would without.

My office frequently gets contacted by concerned family members who may be unable to specify the exact type of error and facility made, but nonetheless they have a clear belief that their loved one’s condition has changed for the worse due to improper care or taking an dangerous drug.

Recently we were contacted by the family of a lady who within several months of taking Reglan Tablets, began to develop severe muscle spasms in her face.  We soon found out that the staff physician had prescribed Reglan several months before the spasms started.

Picture-263Reglan (generic name – metoclopramide) speeds up the movement of the stomach muscles, which increases the rate at which the stomach empties into the intestines. This prescription drug is used to treat gastrointestinal disorders including heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), diabetic gastroparesis (stomach does not contract), and to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy and surgery.

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Client Reviews

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric