March 2010 Archives

March 26, 2010

Chantix and Zyban, Used to Quit Smoking, Linked to Over 100 Suicides

Last summer the FDA issued a warning on the drugs Chantix and Zyban, used by people trying to quit smoking, for their link to suicides. Zyban is also sold as Wellbutrin and is also used to treat depression. A July 2009 New York Times article states that Chantix has been linked to 98 suicides and 188 attempted suicides; Zyban is linked to 14 suicides and 17 attempted suicides.

According to FDA reports as well as information gathered from clinical trials, many people started experiencing mental health side effects a short time after taking the drugs, which ended after they stopped taking the medication. In addition to suicidal thoughts, some people also reported depression and behavioral changes such as irritability. Although some of these changes may be linked to patients experiencing withdrawal symptoms, some patients experienced side effects while they continued to smoke.

The FDA has made it mandatory for the manufacturers of Chantix and Zyban to alert the public about their risks. Pfizer, the maker of Chantix, will add a black box warning to the drug. GlaxoSmithKline already has a black box warning on Wellbutrin, which includes suicidal thoughts as a danger of taking the drug, and plans to add a warning to Zyban. The FDA is also requiring Pfizer and Glaxo to do clinical trials to determine the psychiatric effects on patients taking these drugs.

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March 22, 2010

Florida Parents Beware: Baby Sling Carriers Could be Deadly

Parents using baby sling carriers should know that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a warning on slings due to suffocation death hazards. Specific brands were not mentioned in the warning.

The warning applies to babies younger than four months, preemies, babies who have difficulty breathing, and babies with low birth weight. In the past 20 years, 14 babies have died - 12 of which have been under four months- as a result of infant sling carriers, including three deaths last year. Infants under four months old are more susceptible to suffocating while in a sling because of their inability to control their heads at such a young age.

The CPSC advises parents to make sure their infant's face is exposed, chin up, and to make sure their child's nose and mouth are not covered. The Commission also encourages parents to check the position of their babies often. The CPSC offers diagrams explaining the right way, and incorrect ways, to place an infant in a sling.

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March 17, 2010

Florida Families Affected by Bed Bugs

The term "Don't let the bed bugs bite" is no laughing matter for the people who have sustained injuries and embarrassment resulting from bed bugs. Bed bug cases have been filed against furniture rental companies and hotels nationwide. People all over the country have experienced the consequences of just how devastating these tiny insects can be. Because they are so small, it's easy for them to live in furniture and hide indoors. And when they bite, it hurts.

Law Offices Cytryn & Velazquez has represented clients in Florida who have been affected by bed bugs. One of our clients sustained injuries including permanent scarring, headaches, nausea, aching and swollen joints after staying in a South Florida motel. Because her luggage had also been infested with bed bugs, she continued to suffer insect bites despite the change in rooms. In this case, the motel owners refused to acknowledge any problem or take any action to remedy the bed bug situation.

Another bed bug case our personal injury lawyers handled took place in a Jacksonville, Florida, hotel in May 2009. The bed bugs in the hotel left scarring and dark marks on our client's arms and legs. If the hotel had an inspection procedure in place, the dangerous condition would have been discovered upon inspection.

A bed bug case unrelated to our firm involves a family whose home became infested by bed bugs after renting furniture from Aaron's. The bed bugs spread uncontrollably, even after they disposed of several items, forcing the family to move homes.

Furniture rental companies should inspect items to make sure they are in a safe condition and free from insect infestations. This process should include cleaning and exterminating mattresses as well as supervising store or warehouse managers who control or maintain the furniture. Hotels should also inspect their mattresses and make sure their rooms are in safe condition for their customers.

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March 12, 2010

Florida Gets Closer to Banning Texting and Driving

If you're a Florida driver, you should think twice before texting and driving now more than ever. A bill to stop texting while driving has been unanimously approved by a House committee in the state's capital, Tallahassee. If the texting ban law is passed, Florida will join 19 other states that have already banned texting and driving.

According to The Miami Herald, if the law is passed, drivers in Florida would not be able to read information on their phones or send texts when driving. Unfortunately, texting would only be chargeable as a secondary offense; meaning if you're texting and driving, you would also have to be speeding or committing some other offense in order for the police to cite you. Initially, some lawmakers such as Rep. Doug Holder pushed to make texting while driving a primary offense, but realized they would face too much resistance and agreed to the current version of the bill. Other lawmakers, however, still want to see tougher enforcement.

It is common knowledge that using a cell phone while driving is distracting and could cause a car accident. But seeing the statistics will hopefully keep drivers' eyes on the roads. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), distractions contribute to 80 percent of crashes, and people who use mobile devices increase their chances by four times of getting into an accident where they could get injured.

Earlier this year the Department of Transportation banned truck drivers across the country from texting while driving. Studies have shown that texting while driving is more dangerous than drunk driving because it takes longer for a driver who is texting to react and hit the brakes than a driver who has been drinking.

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March 9, 2010

Florida Residents Beware: New Vehicle Ignition Systems May Pose Carbon Monoxide Risk

Having a car equipped with a keyless system and push button start may be a convenience for some and a cool gadget for others, but regardless, you should be aware of the concerns around owning a keyless system vehicle. A recent LA Times article raised questions regarding the safety of driving a car with a new keyless system. The article states that there have been reported concerns including people not being able to turn off their engines in emergencies and people who unintentionally left their engines running for hours.

How can it be possible for some drivers to forget they left their engines running? With all the distractions of life, it could be very easy to forget to press the off button after stepping out of their vehicles. And while some vehicles warn their drivers that the engine is still running, and some automatically shut off after the driver walks away, some vehicles offer no warning if the engine keeps running after the driver steps away from the car. If all keyless system vehicles shut off on their own via a timer after the driver leaves the car, not only would this be safer, it would also save gas. According to the Chicago Tribune, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Society of Automotive Engineers are working on standards that would make driving these vehicles safer.

If your car is left running in the garage, dangerous carbon monoxide fumes from the vehicle will enter your home, leading to harmful or even deadly consequences. Carbon monoxide does not have a particular smell or color, so it is difficult to detect unless you already feel some of the symptoms from exposure to carbon monoxide. Some of these symptoms include feeling weak, dizzy, disoriented, nauseous, and having headaches.

Causes of carbon monoxide poisoning range from leaving idling vehicles in the garage to having malfunctioning gas heaters at home. Earlier this year, two Sarasota, Florida, Ringling College students woke up feeling dizzy and disoriented. They were lucky to have woken up, as they were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Six people in total were affected as a result of a defective gas heater in a home that is owned by Ringling College. They were all treated and released from the hospital.

Not everyone affected by carbon monoxide poisoning is so lucky. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carbon monoxide poisoning sends over 20,000 people to emergency rooms nationwide and over 400 Americans die from Carbon monoxide poisoning each year. One of the precautions to take in the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning includes installing carbon monoxide detectors at home.

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