Takata Airbag Recall Expanded to Millions of Vehicles

accident and injuries from takata airbag failure

As many as 34 million cars and 10 automakers are affected by the massive recall of airbags manufactured by the Takata Corporation. Most of the airbags were installed in automobiles sold in 2002 through 2008; however, in some instances the recall has been expanded to include 2014 models. The problem is related to a chemical that causes the airbag to inflate with explosive force, sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment. The root cause of the defect is still not thoroughly understood and remains under investigation. The faulty airbags are linked to at least 6 deaths and over 100 injuries.

It may be several weeks before  a complete list of vehicles affected by the recall is available. According to recent reports, this could be the largest auto recall in U.S. history. For more details about the recall and an up-to-date list of the autos covered go to safercar.gov. To determine if your car or truck is covered by the recall enter the vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/

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FDA Panel Advises Strict Limits on Testosterone Prescriptions

FDA Warning sign

Assuming the FDA adopts the advice of the panel, the drug companies will be forced to severely alter marketing strategies and the number of men prescribed these drugs will be significantly reduced. The recommendations might also impact insurance coverage of testosterone prescriptions.

On June 19, 2014 the FDA announced that labels for these drugs are now required to include warnings pertaining to the risk of blood clots.

Questions remain concerning the long-term risks of testosterone and prior studies have linked the medication to increased rates of heart disease. The same panel  voted 20 – 1 for the FDA  to require further studies be conducted related to cardiovascular risk and testosterone use. On Thursday, September 18th, the panel voted 18 – 3 against the approval of the oral testosterone drug Rextoro; the panel concluded that the risk-benefit ratio fails to support FDA approval.

GM Ignition-Switch Defect Now Linked to at Least 21 Deaths

Ignition assembly of GM vehicleGM has establish a Voluntary Compensation Fund for victims of the defective ignition switch in GM vehicles. The program is intended to cover victims killed or seriously injured when the airbag failed to deploy because a defect in the ignition switch causes the vehicle to stall, disabling air bags.

The program was launched on August 5, 2014. According to a report from Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the fund, 21 deaths and 16 claims of serious injures have been determined eligible for compensation from the fund. As of Friday, September 19th, 143 death claims have been received. A recent article from Reuters disclosed that $400 million has been set aside by GM to cover compensation costs for the victims of the recalled ignition switch.

Based on Feinberg’s announcement outlining the details of the compensation fund, the deadline for submitting claims is December 31, 2014. The full text of the announcement is available at www.GMIgnitionCompensation.com

For more information about the ignition defect and the vehicles covered by the recall see the GM Ignition Recall Safety Information  website and the NHTSA Consumer Alert.

APC Surge Protectors Recalled Due to Fire Hazard

APC Surge ProtectorOn October 3, 2013, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPCS) announce the recall of Schneider Electric APC Surge Protectors stating that the product “can overheat, smoke and melt, posing fire hazard.” According to the recall notice, the company received 700 reports of the surge protectors overheating and melting and 55 claims of property damage caused by smoke and fire. One incident reported $916,000 in fire damage to a home; another report claimed there was $750,000 in fire damage to a medical facility. They received 13 reports of injuries, including smoke inhalation and burns.

The recall notice applies to APC 7 & 8 series SurgeArrest surge protectors manufactured before 2003. They were produced by American Power Conversion (APC), now Schneider Electric, of West Kingston, RI and sold at Best Buy, Circuit City, Comp USA and other stores nationwide from January 1993 through December 2002. See the CPSC website for a complete list of serial numbers included in the recall.

Consumers are advised to stop using the surge protectors immediately and contact Schneider Electric for a free replacement.

Consumer Contact:  Schneider Electric IT Corp., 1-888-437-4007 or http://recall.apc.com

Sunscreen for Babies & Kids Tests Positive for Dangerous Bacteria & Fungus

Badger Recall LinkOn September 23, 2013 the FDA published the W.S. Badger Company’s voluntary recall of all lots of 4-ounce SPF 30 baby sunscreen lotion and one lot of its 4-ounce SPF kids sunscreen lotion after tests revealed microbial contamination. The products were discovered to be contaminated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida parapsilosis and Acremonium fungus. Badger is a New Hampshire based company that has been manufacturing natural and organic body care products since 1995. As many a 30,000 tubes of the recalled sunscreen has been sold in the U.S. and Canada. It is the Number one selling all natural sunscreen in the U.S.

Although there have been no reports of adverse reactions to the sunscreen, possible risks associated with the contaminants include the following:

Pseudomonas bacteria:  can cause skin rash and ear infections and is especially threatening to people with weakened immune systems. Severe illness can develop if the bacteria enters the bloodstream.

Candida parapsilosis:  a fungus that can cause mild skin infection and severe infection if it enters the bloodstream.

Acremonium fungican:  can lead to infection if it enters the bloodstream through broken or injured skin.

The company founder and chief executive, Bill Whyte, stated that the sunscreens passed all pre-sale tests but routine re-testing revealed that “several lots had been compromised.” Consumers are being advised to return the products to the original place of purchase for complete refund or contact Badger directly at 1-800-603-6100 or recalls@badgerbalm.com.

See the FDA website to view the recall announcement, the complete list of lot numbers affected by the recall, and information on where to report adverse events related to the sunscreen products.

Lawsuits Allege Link Between Pancreatic Cancer and Diabetes Drug Byetta

byetta packagingApproved in 2005, Byetta is an injectable medication used to help lower blood sugar levels of people suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. In 2007 the FDA issued a public warning that there were concerns over a possible link between pancreatitis, a condition associated with the development of pancreatic cancer, and the use of Byetta and other incretin mimetic drugs.  A 2011 study from UCLA suggested that Byetta might increase the risk  of developing pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer. According to a report published by The Institute for Safe Medication Practices, 612 of the 1,069 cases of pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer or hypersensitivity reaction reported to the FDA in 2012 were linked to Byetta.

These concerns escalated in March of 2013 when a study suggested a connection between the use of Byetta and the development of a precancerous condition called pancreatic duct metaplasia. Although the FDA as yet to confirm that patients taking incretin mimetics such as Byetta are in fact at risk of this disease, research on this concern is ongoing.  Both the FDA and the American Diabetes Association have requested more testing of drugs like Byetta to determine additional risks. A recent report in the British Medical Journal suggests that risks associated with incretin memtics have been minimized by drug manufacturers.

Over 60 lawsuits involving the use of Byetta and other incretin mimetic drugs such as Januvia and Victoza are underway in U.S. District Court, Southern District of California. On August 26, 2013 the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated these cases (Incretins Products Liability, Sales and Marketing Litigation, MDL 252, United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict  Litigation). The first trial conference is scheduled for October 17, 2013.

Dehumidifiers Recalled Due to Fire & Burn Hazard

dehumidifier damage after fireGree Electric Appliances of China issued a recall of 12 Brands of dehumidifiers after receiving 165 reports from consumers, including 46 reports of fires and over $2 million in property damage.  According to the September 12, 2013 recall announcement, there is danger of the dehumidifiers overheating and catching on fire. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning advising consumers to stop using the products immediately.

The brand names covered by the recall include: Danby, De’Longhi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima. The dehumidifiers sold for $110 – $400, and were available in stores from 2005 to 2013. They were purchased from Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sam’s Club, Kmart, Menards, Sears and other stores in the U.S. and Canada. They were also available online from Amazon.

The complete list of brand names and model numbers covered by the recall, as well refund information, is available on the CPCS website.

To receive a refund consumers should contact Gree Electric at 866-853-22802 or online at www.greeusa.com.

Children’s Products Recently Recalled

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced recalls of the following children’s products:

children's water bottle1.  As of May 29, 2013, Children’s Water Bottles sold by H&M have been recalled due to the risk of the spout breaking off and posing a choking hazard. Although there have been no reports of injuries, H&M received one report from a consumer stating that  the spout broke off in a child’s mouth.

Consumers should stop using the water bottles immediately and contact H&M (855-466-7467 or http://www.hm.com) to receive a postage paid return mailer along with a complete refund and $25 gift certificate. The water bottles were sold exclusively at H&M stores from July 2012 through March 2013.

2.  Pottery Barn Sweet Lambie Crib Bumbers have been recalled due to reports of the decorative stitching becoming loose and children getting entangled in the threads. The company has received two reports of children getting entangled in the stitching, including one incident where the  threads became wrapped around an infant’s neck. The recall covers bumpers manufactured from April 2009 to July 2012, model numbers 708859, 708917 0r 7988348.

Customers are advised to stop using crib bumpers with the above model numbers and dates and contact Pottery Barn Kids for instructions on how to receive a complete refund or a replacement crib bumper. Contact Information: toll-free at (855) 323-5138, or online at www.potterybarnkids.com, click on Safety Recalls.

Visit the CPSC webpage for more information pertaining to these and other consumer product recalls.

Japanese Automakers Recall Over Three Million Cars Due to Risk of Airbags Exploding

Carmaker logosSeveral of Japan’s largest carmakers announced on Thursday, April 11th, the recall of 3.4 million vehicles because of a defect in the passenger side airbags. According to a recent news release posted by American Honda, “it is possible that the passenger front airbag inflators in affected vehicles may deploy with too much pressure, which may cause the inflator casing to rupture and could result in injury.” The recall affects top-selling Japanese cars including, but not limited to, the Toyota Corolla and Camry, the Nissan Maxima, and the Honda Civic and Odyssey. Both Honda and Toyota have received reports of incidents where the airbag deployed under pressure and the casing ruptured. However, there have been no reports of injuries or deaths.

The airbags were supplied by Japan’s Takata Corporation, a company that supplies airbags and seatbelts to many of the major automobile manufactures, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda and Ford. According to news releases, all of the vehicles covered by the recall are model years 2000 to 2003. Toyota is expected to recall over 1.7 million cars manufactured between 2000 and 2004 that were sold in North America and Europe. Honda is recalling about 1.14 million vehicles, Nissan is recalling 480,000 vehicles, and Mazda is recalling 45,500 cars, all sold worldwide.

Consumers can find out if their Toyota or Honda is affected by the recall by going to the company’s  website and entering the vehicle identification number.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, April 11, 2013; Reuters, April 11, 2013

Dozens of Lawsuits Allege Serious Risks Associated with Mirena IUD

Mirena birth control device Manufactured by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, the Mirena IUD was approved by the FDA in 2000 as a contraceptive and later as treatment for heavy bleeding after childbirth. The device is used by more than 2 million women in the U.S. and 15 million women worldwide. Although considered a safe form of birth control, the FDA has received thousands of reports from women claiming they have suffered serious complications from the device. Recent lawsuits allege that women who use the contraceptive are susceptible to the following risks:

  • Perforation of the uterine or cervix wall
  • Embedment in vaginal tissue
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Ovarian Cysts
  • Migration out of the uterus which can result in infection or other injuries

Of the nearly 3 dozen lawsuits filed, the primary allegation is perforation of surrounding tissue.  According to the lawsuits, Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals knew or should have known about the risks and neglected to provide adequate warnings to the medical community. Plaintiffs allege that the company withheld information about the risks and made false and deceptive representations concerning the safety  of the device. Although the FDA has not yet recommended a recall of the Mirena IUD, it appears likely that the manufacturer will be required to alter the warning label to include more comprehensive information about potential risks.

Click here to access the FDA’s description of the Mirena IUD, including side affects and risks.