Funny thing happened on the way to the fountain of youth: the road was littered with lotions and potions, Botox and fillers, false claims and false tits—and, of course, facelifts. Even vaginal rejuvenation. Everything a gal could want for trying to hold onto what nature will ultimately take away—regardless of whether a false veneer of youth is gotten and paid for, or not. But left in dust behind every woman of the desperately-clutching-to-twenty-nine set was someone who did not have such readily available magic…such opportunity: the common, and aging, man (well, Bruce Jenner and David Hasselhoff plastic surgery rumors aside.)
Ah, but the conundrum was worse than imagined. Never mind that men may have felt excluded from the pulled face and tummy tucked echelons of society. Another quandary was rearing its ugly head, tucked away in the offices, cubes and conference rooms of Big Pharma: the very product that could tout itself as the male fountain of youth had only limited reach.
The product? Testosterone.
Ok, there’s little doubt that the current debate over low-testosterone has given rise to the broader issue of need vs. want. Medical necessity vs. vanity.
Is this something I truly need, or am I just being sold a bill of goods…nothing more than a well-marketed lie?
The pharmaceutical industry (aka Big Pharma) takes up a huge footprint in American commerce. Pharmaceuticals have helped us live longer, free of disease. Ongoing research—and the treatments that follow—has succeeded in elevating our lives and collective life expectancy well beyond the point at which our forefathers checked out for good.
But where will all this end? And will Big Pharma remain unsatisfied until they have a pill for every small, niggling thing that emerges as the natural process of aging?
Need to get up several times at night to go to the bathroom? There’s a pill for that. Wrinkles? There’s Botox for that. A middle-aged man with flagging energy? There’s a testosterone topical gel for that…
It seems—at least through the lens of the pharma co’s—the fountain of youth can, and should, be found at your friendly, neighborhood drug store.
On the testosterone front, there is fierce debate. And with good reason. Testosterone supplementation, originally approved for conditions such as hypogonadism (undescended testes) and extremely low levels of testosterone (or no testosterone at all), is and has been for decades a legitimate treatment for men suffering from low testosterone.
Like any and every drug on the market, there are testosterone side effects. Testosterone can spur the production of red blood cells, and in some cases a level of testosterone that is too high can lead to cardiovascular issues such as testosterone stroke or testosterone heart attack. But drugs, medical devices and treatments are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on the mantra that so long as a drug’s benefits outweigh the potential risks for the intended constituency of patients, then the drug is appropriate for the market.
Manufacturers are always lauding their drugs as ‘safe and effective.’ But the FDA talks only in terms of ratios involving benefit v. risk. The risk of side effects is an unspoken given.
Thus, testosterone. For patients with hypogonadism or otherwise extremely low levels of testosterone, the benefits of supplementation to elevate quality of life can be profound, and well worth the risks.
Testosterone supplementation does have its place. But should it be used to treat the natural symptoms of simply getting older?
Most people not associated with pharmaceutical companies that stand to make huge profits through the identification of new markets, would probably agree that it should not. But that doesn’t stop an already-wealthy industry from the need and greed to be richer still, by way of a limitless quest for new markets in order to flog products well beyond the uses for which they were approved in the first place.
You don’t have to stretch too far to imagine that some marketing whizzes in a Big Pharma back room—their own testosterone racing—sniffed around for new testosterone markets and came upon a Venn diagram showing the sweet spot where age-induced Low-T intersects with an ever-growing baby boomer population. The solution! There it was! The Low-T Low Hanging Fruit! Yes, indeed there was a broader market to be tapped that could deliver broader market saturation: the aging boomer whose energy is flagging, breasts are sagging (probably caused by another drug), overweight, a bit lethargic, and not quite as prolific in the bedroom as they used to be. Tough to get to the arena for that late-night pickup hockey game, when you’re falling asleep after dinner…The storyboards were already starting to fly off the pads of the wannabe Art Directors!
But what’s even better than identifying that hypothetical sweet spot in a marketing plan? Finding the reality that…men actually CARE about this stuff now. Suddenly they’re not satisfied with slowing down at middle age. Self-improvement suddenly matters, and the pursuit of the Fountain of Youth is no longer reserved for women.
That’s right. Let’s tell the men we have their back, with products that can boost their energy, help them lose weight, help them think more clearly, and return them to hero status in the bedroom.
Next thing you know ‘Low-T’ (as marketing catchphrase) was born. And now Low-T has become ‘A Thing’.
A testosterone lawsuit recently filed by a plaintiff who succumbed to flashy marketing and at 61 was hospitalized with blood clots, zeroes in on the origins of the Low-T phenomenon, insights gleaned from a revealing expose appearing in The New York Times last fall.
‘Selling That New Man Feeling’ (New York Times, 11/23/13) paints a vivid picture of just how we got here—and how plaintiff Roger Gibby found himself in the hospital with blood clots in his legs and lungs.
“None of the testosterone products have indications for weight loss, increasing energy or improving mood,” said Andrea Fischer, a spokeswoman for the FDA, in comments published in The New York Times. In other words, testosterone products were never intended for anything other than hypogonadism and extremely low levels of testosterone that required medical intervention.
And yet this incredible market has risen like a Phoenix—with annual sales in the billions of dollars—built on a foundation of male vanity, intensive advertising, dubious need and a $40,000 questionnaire jotted down within 20 minutes on toilet paper during a bathroom break.
Dr. John E. Morley, director of endocrinology and geriatrics at St. Louis University School of Medicine who has previous ties to the pharmaceutical industry through paid speaking engagements, was asked by Organon BioSciences, a Dutch pharmaceutical company, to come up with a screening questionnaire that highlighted symptoms common to older men with low testosterone. He was told to keep it short and make it somewhat sexy.
In exchange for 20 minutes in the bathroom, Morley’s employer received a $40,000 research grant. And those 20 minutes in the bathroom has gone on to become an online staple now known as the ‘Is It Low-T Quiz.’
Dr. Morley admitted to The New York Times that it wasn’t his best work. ‘I have no trouble calling it a crappy questionnaire,” Morley told The Times. “It is not ideal.”
That quiz is now utilized by many of the biggest manufacturers of testosterone supplements. The idea is to attempt a self-diagnosis of ‘Low-T’ online, then bring that to your doctor to lobby for testosterone supplementation. And many doctors have bought into the idea of testosterone as a viable method for restoring sagging energy levels.
That’s not what testosterone supplements were approved for. But then, doctors have the legal, moral and ethical authority to circumvent FDA approval parameters and prescribe products for use off-label.
Here’s the question: have doctors bought into the hype, in the same fashion as their sagging, flagging male patients searching for that fountain of youth?
There is little doubt that manufacturers of testosterone supplements identified a market and exploit it for all its worth. In its statement of position, the Gibby Low-T lawsuit picked up on the naming of two AbbVie executives by Medical Marketing & Media as “the all-star large pharma marketing team of the year,” for 2013. The New York Times noted that the plaudits were for promotions involving AndroGel and unbranded efforts to advance Low-T.
“It didn’t hurt that baby boomers have proven less than shy about availing themselves of any product that they believe will increase their quality of life,” an article in the magazine said. AbbVie’s unbranded site DriveForFive.com, was lauded for encouraging men to have regular checkups and to ask their doctors about five tests, among them checks for cholesterol, blood pressure—and testosterone.
AbbVie takes the high road, officially stating that all it’s doing is making men aware of the potential for low testosterone, the potential benefits of testosterone supplementation, and the importance of starting a dialogue with their doctor on the issue.
But even the availability of the on-line screening quiz, dubbed ADAM, flies in the face of a position maintained by The Endocrine Society, which recommends against screening of the general population for Low-T. The Society makes the point that testosterone levels in most men fluctuate a great deal depending on several factors, from sleep levels to stress, or time proximity to the latest meal consumed. Even the time of day, or if a favorite sports team is losing, can affect testosterone levels.
As such, a single testosterone reading may not indicate a problem. But that hasn’t stopped Big Pharma from advancing Low-T to status of ‘A Thing’ that brings in billions of dollars each year. And one study says that men have bought into it so conclusively, a full 25 percent of men who were given testosterone prescriptions did not have the requisite blood work to back that need up.
Hence, the suggestion that doctors have bought into it, too.
This has fueled the debate between those who believe testosterone is not the pariah many make it out to be, vs. the anti-testosterone camp who want supplements banned.
Both sides have points. For some men, testosterone supplementation is both necessary and a godsend. And as has been historically the case prior to the recent creation of the ‘Low-T’ phenomenon, testosterone supplementation as a response to a real medical condition such as hypogonadism, or extremely low levels of testosterone based on sound medical testing and diagnosis, is indeed appropriate.
Just as there are risks associate with advanced levels of testosterone, so too are there risks associated with seriously low levels.
However, helping to fuel the debate over testosterone side effects on the too-high side, is the proliferation of the Low-T market that suggests there are a lot of men out there having been persuaded to adopt testosterone supplementation in the absence of sound, medical need.
And that puts them at risk for testosterone stroke, or testosterone heart attack, needlessly—perhaps all because Big Pharma saw a market with potential dollar signs, and went to work…
Proponents of testosterone as a means to foster men’s health have found fault with some studies—and one in particular—that paint testosterone supplementation as a villain.
There have also been accusations of fear-mongering levied against the media and anti-testosterone advocates, who are accused of needlessly inflating worry and blowing the issue out of proportion.
In contrast, there are those who accuse the testosterone industry and pro-testosterone advocates of ‘disease-mongering,’ by promoting a need—a problem—that doesn’t really exist for the general population.
In so doing, testosterone is flying back and forth unabated, as tensions continue to rise amid a debate that tries to differentiate between the natural processes of aging vs. the wisdom to intervene needlessly in such a natural process.
Medical need is one thing. Exploiting a potential market is quite another.
What is the need, really? And do we put our faith in an industry, with already deep pockets and looking to make them deeper, that tries to convince us that we need this stuff?
I don’t think so. I’ll take the unbiased, unvarnished opinion of my doctor who stands to reap no reward other than the realization of a healthy patient who thinks it’s okay to grow old gracefully. But I’ll be damned if I’ll give money to a pharmaceutical company claiming to have my best interest at heart, because they don’t. They have a conflict. If they convince me I need testosterone, they make a buck.
A long time ago I was taking a business course, and the course lead asked of the room, the reason why people go into business. To fulfill a dream? To help your fellow man? To make the world a better place? To leave behind a legacy?
Nope. All wrong answers.
The reason—is to make money. Profit. That’s it. Everything else is secondary.
It’s enough to get my testosterone racing—what little I have left…
Not Paid for Prime Time? What would the week be without an employment class action? This week, among several employment class actions filed, is one against Prime Healthcare Centinela LLC alleging California labor law violations, specifically underpayment of overtime and failure to provide meal and rest breaks to 400 employees at its 12 California hospitals.
In the Prime Healthcare class action, lead plaintiff Evalyn Beauchamp, a social worker for Prime Healthcare’s subsidiary since March 2011, alleges “In violation of state law, defendants have knowingly and willfully refused to perform their obligations to compensate plaintiffs for all wages earned and all hours worked.” And “As a direct result, plaintiffs have suffered, and continue to suffer, substantial losses related to the use and enjoyment of such wages.”
The lawsuit, Evalyn Beauchamp et al. v. Prime Healthcare Centinela LLC et al., case number BC542351, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, claims that Prime Healthcare established policies under which hourly employees would be “taken off the clock” for a variety of reasons, including the indicating the end of a worker’s official shift or falsely accounting that a meal break was taken when the employee was actually forced to continue working.
According to the allegations, while Prime Healthcare frequently required its employees to work in excess of eight hours per day and over 40 hours per week, it failed to pay them one and a half times the regular hourly rate as required under California law.
Further, the lawsuit claims Prime Healthcare failed to provide its employees with accurate wage statements and failed to pay separated employees the amounts they were owed in a timely manner.
Beauchamp filed the lawsuit on behalf of all hourly, nonunionized social workers and others in similar positions, claiming the company established policies for employees to clock out when they were still working and did not compensate them for overtime hours worked.
The class action seeks to represent all hourly nonexempt social workers, discharge planners, case managers and others who worked for Prime Healthcare since April 2010, a class she estimates to include 400 people at 12 hospitals.
De-Fault of the Bank? Maybe…If the allegations in this new consumer banking and lending violations class action lawsuit prove true, then yes. Wells Fargo Bank NA is facing a potential lawsuit alleging it violated California consumer laws by billing late fees to, or foreclosing on, state homeowners who had loan modification applications pending with the bank. Something referred to as Dual Tracking. Read on.
The Wells Fargo lawsuit, Garcia et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank NA et al., case number 8:14-cv-00558, in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges Wells Fargo practices “dual tracking”, which is when a bank pursues a foreclosure while simultaneously processing loan modifications. On January 1, 2013, the California Homeowner Bill of Rights was enacted, forbidding this behavior.
“Because the dual-tracking system prevents homeowners from being evaluated for appropriate loan modifications before foreclosure, it has resulted in many unnecessary foreclosures,” the lawsuit states.
Lead plaintiffs, Orange County residents Henry and Renee Garcia, allege they applied for a loan modification with Wells Fargo but that the bank charged them $840 in late fees and prepared to foreclose on the property before the application process was complete. The bank later rejected the application, verbally denied their appeal, and scheduled the home for trustee sale.
According to the lawsuit, the Garcias defaulted on the mortgage for their San Juan Capistrano, CA, home on March 6, 2013. The following month they submitted a loan modification application to Wells Fargo and over the next several months they stayed in frequent communication with bank officials.
However, simultaneous to the processing of the Garcias’ application Wells Fargo recorded a notice of trustee sale on their home, moving forward with the foreclosure process in violation of the state’s consumer protection law, according to the lawsuit. It wasn’t until the following January that the Garcias loan application was denied, according to the complaint. Garcias appealed, but the bank denied the appeal in February and scheduled a trustee sale of the property for March 5, 2014.
In their lawsuit, the Garcias seek to establish two classes: one for alleged victims of dual tracking and another for homeowners who were illegally charged late fees.
The complaint alleges violations of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights’ restrictions on dual tracking and late fees and the California Unfair Competition Law. The plaintiffs are seeking class certification, unspecified damages and restitution, and injunctive relief forbidding the bank from engaging in the alleged activity.
Next Time Ask for Directions? With a name like Compass, you’d think they’d already know how not to go astray… At any rate, here’s proof that employment class actions are worth the effort—a proposed $1.1 million settlement has been reached in a class action accusing Compass Health Inc. of California labor law violations, specifically of underpayment of overtime. Heard that one before?
Under the terms of the settlement, Compass would pay a net settlement amount of up to $700,500 to all members of the settlement class, which is approximately 2,500 current and former hourly nonexempt employees in California who worked for Compass Health between March 29, 2009 and January 6 2014.
According to the lawsuit, the workers alleged Compass miscalculated the regular rate of pay because it didn’t properly include the value of annual safety bonuses. They also claimed meal and rest period violations on the part of the defendant, as well as derivative penalty claims.
Court documents indicated that based on the number of valid claims filed, the average settlement payment would be about $425, with the highest payment being roughly $1,050, which is “an excellent result for the settlement class, particularly when compared to other, similar wage and hour class action settlements involving similar-wage workers.”
Ok—Let’s celebrate that news—Happy Easter—and we’ll see you at the bar!
A roundup of recent asbestos-related news and information that you should be aware of. An ongoing list of reported asbestos hot spots in the US from the Asbestos News Roundup archive appears on our asbestos map.
US Navy Veterans are at a particularly high risk for asbestos-related disease, due to their asbestos exposure while working on navy ships undergoing refits. But because asbestos-related disease can take up to 30 years or more to manifest, it is often detected long after men have left the Navy.
The states with the most US Navy Veterans include California, Florida, New York, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, Maine, Oregon, Arizona, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Montana, Kansas, North Dakota, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Mississippi.
US Navy Veterans are not the only group of workers at high risk for asbestos exposure. Men and women who worked in power plants, manufacturing factories, chemical plants, oil refineries, mines, smelters, aerospace manufacturing facilities, demolition construction work sites, railroads, automotive manufacturing facilities, or auto brake shops may also have been exposed to high levels of asbestos.
St. Clair County, IL: Jeanne Belman, special administrator of deceased Marcella Goedeke estate, has filed an asbestos lawsuit against CSX Transportation, alleging the company is responsible for the developing asbestos mesothelioma and Goedeke’s subsequent death.
Filed a lawsuit March 14, the lawsuit claims the railway allowed its employees to be exposed to asbestos despite being aware of the associated adverse health risks.
Specifically, Belman alleges that Goedeke suffered second hand asbestos exposure to asbestos fibers that clung to her husband’s work clothing. Goedeke’s husband worked at The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. When Goedeke’s husband came home, she inhaled and ingested the asbestos fibers that were on his clothes, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims that the asbestos mesothelioma caused Goedeke great pain and disability, and that she endured serious mental anguish and extreme nervousness and incurred significant medical costs, the suit states. She passed away on March 18, 2012, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims Goedeke’s asbestos disease could have been avoided had The Baltimore and Railroad Company heeded the advice of experts in 1935 who warned the railroad to educate all its employees about asbestos fibers. According to the complaint, the experts also advised the company to get rid of asbestos dust, to sprinkle the working area with water, to have employees wear inhalers and to have frequent analyses made of the dust content of air at different times during work hours.
Instead, Belman alleges the railroad negligently exposed Goedeke’s husband to asbestos, allowed him to carry the asbestos with him into his home, failed to warn him that it could cause disease, failed to prevent him from being exposed to the asbestos, failed to provide him with protective clothing and allowed unsafe work practices to become routine.
Eventually, The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company was taken over by CSX, which Belman named as a defendant in her complaint that seeks damages under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Belman is seeking a judgment of more than $100,000, plus costs. (madisonrecord.com)
St. Clair County, IL: Nicole Lockett has filed an asbestos lawsuit naming 21 defendant corporations which, she alleges, caused the Randle R. Lockett Sr. to develop mesothelioma after his exposure to asbestos-containing products throughout his father’s career. He subsequently died of his asbestos disease.
According to the lawsuit, Randle R. Lockett Sr.’s father worked in the military and at ICBM and Minuteman and MX missile site maintaining and repairing silos. The defendants should have known of the harmful effects of asbestos, but failed to exercise reasonable care and caution for Mr. Lockett`s father`s safety, the suit states. As a result of his asbestos-related disease, Randle R. Lockett Sr. became disabled and disfigured, incurred medical costs and suffered great physical pain and mental anguish, the complaint says. Additionally, he was prevented from pursuing his normal course of employment and, as a result, lost large sums of money that would have accrued, the lawsuit states.
Nicole Lockett is seeking a judgment of more than $50,000, compensatory damages of more than $200,000, punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish the defendants for their misconduct and other relief the court deems just.(madionsrecord.com)
St. Clair County, IL: An asbestos lawsuit has been filed by Betty G. Crutchfield naming 41 defendant corporations, which, she claims, caused Donald Crutchfield Sr. to develop lung cancer after his exposure to asbestos-containing products throughout his career. Mr. Crutchfield died from his asbestos disease.
As a result of his asbestos-related illness Donald Crutchfield Sr. became disabled and disfigured, incurred medical costs and suffered great physical pain and mental anguish, Betty Crutchfield claims. In addition, he were prevented from pursuing his normal course of employment and, as a result, lost large sums of money that would have accrued to him, the lawsuit states.
Betty G. Crutchfield is seeking a judgment of more than $300,000, compensatory damages of more than $100,000, punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish the defendants for their misconduct and other relief the court deems just. (madisonrecord.com)
New York, NY: A $980,000 judgement has been upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit entered against defendant Cleaver Brooks. The court found that the plaintiff presented enough evidence at trial to support a causal link between the defendant’s asbestos-containing boilers and the deceased Kit L. McCormick illness.
Kelly McCormick filed the asbestos lawsuit on behalf of her husband, Kit L. McCormick, who was injured allegedly as a result of asbestos exposure. (harrismartin.com)
Did you ever receive one of these Chrysler Dodge Ram recalls for defective steering-system tie rods that may have been misaligned during assembly or steering-system service? Did you bring your truck in to have the part replaced? What’s your experience?
Where the hell is Jack Nicholson when you need him? The plaintiff in this case may benefit from some counseling—not the legal type—as he’s apparently got that—but the type that Nicholson doled out in the movie, “Anger Management” (see his Goosfraba therapy in action above.)
Seems Geary Trigleth, plaintiff in a contract law dispute, was quite the colorful character in his recent deposition. And it started when he walked in wearing a t-shirt that screamed, “f*ck you YOU f*cking f*ck”—that’s our man, shown below. Yes, many a plaintiff—and defendant—has thought of showing up at his deposition or in court and giving a few people the F-bomb—but few actually dare to do it. Trigleth is the man, though, and he did.
Things got more interesting from there on as the deposition proceeded at Scheef & Stone law firm in Frisco, TX.
In eloquent terms nonpareil, Trigleth went on to provide passionate commentary regarding defendant Robert Couch.
According to court documents, in referring to Couch, Trigleth stated he was “going to tie that thick necked mother f*cker to a pole and f*ck him up the *ss until he squeals like a pig.”
One can only question whether Trigleth has experience with such. Regardless, speaking of personal relationships, the questioning did at one point veer into Trigleth’s own pursuit of pleasure—or sorry, his possible pursuit of a significant other who just happens to come via mail order (we’re guessing Match.com and Zoosk were off-limits for Trigleth given his online social reach is nil—literally—he has a profile on LinkedIn, but zero connections and his FB friends number 27—so maybe he off-shored love, as one does in these situations).
According to court docs, Attorney J. Mitchell Little started to ask Trigleth a number of relevant questions concerning his status as an accredited investor. Here’s how that went:
Q: Mr. Trigleth, what was the·purpose of the wire transfer that was paid? (Note: Mr. Trigleth also refused to answer and became very agitated at a line of questioning about a prior dispute with Texas Capital Bank where he was alleged to have transferred money for the purpose of acquiring a mail order bride.)
A: Are you gay?
Q: Are you going to answer my question?
A: Are you going to answer my question?
Q: I am here to ask questions.
A: I am here to ask you a question. Are you gay?
Geez. I don’t know—after a while one begins to wonder if a yes or no question starts to sound like a proposition there—or at the very least a fixation of sorts—hey, Little’s an attractive guy and he does have over 500 connections on LinkedIn. But as a little sidenote lest you question the line of questioning in the deposition…here’s a testimonial from Trigleth found over at 1st International Marriage Network (btw, IMBRA stands for International Marriage Broker Regulation Act):
From: Geary Trigleth
Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 10:32 AM
To: Vasiliy Savkin
Subject: Re: IMBRA report prepared at NatashaClub site
Thank you so much for your prompt response and assistance. I enjoy your services and site and compliment the efficiency and strategy of the functionality of the site and services supported! I truly feel your attempt to support the members and strategically protect all involved to meet your business needs and empower the site members to employ there powers of there needs is very efficient and effective! I truly appreciate the services rendered and hope to maintain a continual working relationship in the future. My appreciation!
Yessiree, sounds like someone’s been trying to off-shore some lovin’…
Who knows where it all nets out, but suffice to say it’s one of those court appearances we’d love to be an extra Montblanc ink cartridge lying on counsel’s table for…