Under new law, terminally ill patients given access to medication not approved by FDA

The only drugs administered to the public are those that have been investigated and thus approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  This can often be a long and uphill battle, taking many drugs years to reach consumers.  However, when the already approved medications given to a terminally ill patient aren’t working, many are arguing that they should have a “right to try” medications that have not received final approval from the FDA.

Twenty-two states in the United States have already approved this law and other states are following.  These “right to try” laws state that under correct protocol, terminally ill patients have the right to drugs not approved by the FDA.   When a patient has tried all other treatment options and still remains in critical condition, this new law can offer some hope if an unapproved drug can possibly help.  Some are saying this law gives some hope to those who have lost all.  If some patients were forced to wait until the drug was approved by the FDA, many would die before the process was complete.

“Right to try” activists are calling for the new law to be approved in more states.  Some states have even seen unanimous votes in the House and Senate in approval of the law.  According to families of terminally ill patients such as Dalton Powers, whose dad suffers from ALS, this new law has allowed access to treatments and medications that may not be officially approved for 10 more years. Due to reasons such as this, it seems as though more states will move forward with “right to try” laws.

Read More

The Debate around Death with Dignity Laws

shutterstock_125077214Several months back, a 29-year-old woman named Brittany Maynard chose to end her life through physician assisted suicide. Before she died early in November 2014, she wrote a column for CNN to explain her difficult and controversial decision. Just a year after she had been married in 2012, Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and was given a prognosis of 6 months or less to live. Having learned her treatment options (and the physical, emotional, and psychological suffering that would go with it), she soon decided that death with dignity was her best option. Maynard moved to Oregon with her family from California, because it is one of only 5 states where physician assisted suicide is authorized in America.

Physician assisted suicide, which is more popularly referred to as death with dignity or end-of-life choice, is a medical option available for terminally ill and mentally sound individuals that have been given a fatal prognosis by their physicians. When a patient opts for an end-of-life choice, he or she will be prescribed a lethal dose medication that they can take on their own or in the presence of their physician—depending on state laws.  Oregon is the first state to have legalized it in 1997 through their Death with Dignity Act. There, a patient opting end-of-life will have to meet eligibility requirements before they can be prescribed with medication that they have to self-administer. Similar legislations have been put into effect in Washington and Vermont in 2009 and 2013 respectively.  Death with dignity is legal in Montana and New Mexico through court decision, but full-reaching laws are yet to be passed. Several other states currently have death with dignity bills pending in their legislative body, among them are Maynard’s home state California. In plenty of these places, death with dignity legislation remains a subject of a very heated debate.

Advocates of death with dignity say that laws like the ones in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont help patients to take control of their dire situations and die without having to experience having their quality of life be degraded by their illness. They also say that giving a terminal patient the option to end their life saves their family from the pain of having to watch their loved ones suffer and fade away.  On the other side of the debate, opponents argue that death with dignity go against the moral tradition of certain religious and spiritual beliefs. Aside from religious concerns, end-of-life opponents also express concern that physician assisted suicide could be sought by patients who are mentally ill. However, the lawmakers that have proposed death with dignity laws in their states argue that their legislations will have room for stringent criteria and examination to prevent such scenarios from happening.

Read More

Facing a Marijuana Possession Charge

shutterstock_139577978Drug violations in the U.S. are consistently being met with harsh prosecution and punishment. As the Bureau of Justice Statistics have found, there were more than 1.8 million arrests made in 2007 for violations against drug abuse laws. The American Civil Liberties Union also noted that more than half of these arrests involve marijuana. In fact, about 88 percent of drug arrests are usually for the illegal possession of marijuana.

Recent years have seen a controversial debate on the legalization of marijuana. While its use has become less and less taboo in American culture, the law remains stringent against the substance. Only a few select states have decriminalized the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. Even fewer have chosen to legalize it completely. In most of the country, state laws still hold harsh penalties against possession of the substance. Even a small amount found in a person’s possession can lead to some damning consequences.

Generally, marijuana possession at first offense is classified as a misdemeanor. It could lead to a maximum $1000 fine and up to 1 year in jail. The penalty will become stricter at second offense, resulting to a maximum $2500 and up to 2 years’ time in jail. Any subsequent offenses are typically considered a felony, which could require a maximum $5000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Certain states also impose specific penalties based on the amount of marijuana found in an individual’s possession. In Texas, for example, carrying more than 4 pounds of marijuana can already be considered a felony. Punishment would then become more severe, especially if the individual has committed previous offenses in the past.

Facing a marijuana possession charge is no easy matter. Regardless of the popular sentiment for the use of marijuana, the law holds true on a different idea.

Read More

Storing your RV properly

Recreational vehicles or RVs are great to have, especially when you like to go on road trips with your family when the weather is clear and the air is warm. However, they are a considerable investment, and it is necessary to protect them from disuse and the elements during the winter months. In most cases, you will not have the space to store an RV in your garage, and most communities will not allow RVs to be parked for long periods on the street. You will have to place your RV in a storage unit when you will not be using it for some months, and that is something that you have to plan carefully.

Find a Storage Unit

According to the website of Pond Springs Mini Storage, not all storage companies have the facilities to store an RV. Those who live in towns that have this kind of storage can consider themselves lucky. However, that is just step one in your storage plan.

Inspect for Holes

You have to make sure that rodents will not bed down for the winter in your RV and chew on wires and upholstery. They can get through very small holes so even the best storage units will not be proof against them. Check the undercarriage of the RV, and every nook and cranny inside including drawers and cabinet doors for any holes or gaps. Fill it with expanding foam or silicone after first experimenting with it to get a feel for the stuff.

Remove all Food

Remove anything and everything that can be construed as food that can attract rodents and insects. Use a liberal amount of mothballs and make sure that all the surfaces are wiped down with a disinfectant. Defrost and clean the freezer, prop the doors open, and place baking soda to absorb odors.

Close Everything Down

Turn off the main breaker of the RV and the LPG supply valve. Disconnect the battery, and store them where it won’t freeze. Clean the AC filter and leave it out to dry. Close blind and shades but leave drawers and cabinets open to air them. Remove batteries from flashlights and clocks but keep them close by for next time you need them.

Wash the Exterior

Leaving dust and grime on your RV in storage will degrade the finish and paint, so wash it down thoroughly from roof to undercarriage and apply a good coat of wax. Seal any cracks you might see with a sealant recommended by your RV dealer. Remove fabric awning to be washed and dried before storing.

Read More

Parents Battle over Son’s Circumcision in Court

shutterstock_141950806In what may later be the bane of a Florida child’s existence, a legal battle has sprung up between his biological parents over whether or not he should undergo a circumcision. The child named Chase has become the unwitting flag bearer of a movement to prevent child circumcision, featured in signs such as “Let Chase Keep His Foreskin” and ”Don’t Cut Chase’s Penis.”

The 4-year old has been the center of almost all disagreements (a lot of them) between his estranged parents, and this current wrinkle has fed the fodder of the cause some refer to as “intactivism.” Intactivists are those that are vigorously opposed to the practice of circumcision, considering it “barbaric” with healthy risks inadequately offset by possible benefits.

Circumcision is a relatively simple outpatient procedure in which the foreskin of the penis is removed, and in many cases the male is an infant or a child. The practice is common in some religions, and some have it done in the belief that it is more hygienic, to which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concurs. It is also necessary for some medical conditions. The CDC reports that in 2013 about 58% of all newborn males in the US were circumcised, but that there is a downward trend in the practice.

The parents had a previous agreement in which circumcision would be performed on the child, but the mother balked when the time came for the procedure to be performed, hence the legal battle. The courts have so far favored the father’s side, and no further filings have been made after the Court of Appeals refused to overturn the lower court’s ruling to let the circumcision be performed.

Read More

Factors of Birth Defects

Birth defects can be caused by a number of factors, however, a small amount of these cases are due to third party errors. These third party errors, often caused by doctors or pharmaceutical companies, can be the basis for a personal injury lawsuit.  Medical malpractice lawsuits account to a small number of personal injury lawsuits filed in the United States. It is important to first determine whether the birth defect is caused by medical malpractice or negligence before filing an injury lawsuit. There are generally three causes of birth defects, namely 1) genetic, 2) environmental, and 3) unknown. In order to have a strong and valid medical malpractice lawsuit, you should first determine what caused the birth defect. After you’ve determined what caused it, you can contact The Jeff Sampson Law Firm

  1. Genetic causes can be due to a number of factors. First, the single gene defect, where a mutation of a single gene caused the birth defect. Some defective genes can be passed by one parent to the child, while there are instances where the defect will appear only if both parent suffer from the same single gene defect. Chromosomal defects are due to the structure or number of chromosomes and usually occur when something wrong happens during the development of the sperm or egg cell. Lastly, multifactorial defects occur through a combination of genetic and environmental and occur when the child inherits one or more defective gene and is then exposed to an environmental factor that could trigger the birth defect.
  2. Environmental causes of birth defects happen when the fetus (during the crucial developmental stage) is exposed to environmental substances or conditions that could trigger birth defects. The most common environmental factors are alcohol or drug use, infections and STDs, and chemicals or toxic materials.
  3. Unknown causes are those where there is still no medical explanation available yet. About 70 percent of birth defects are of unknown causes.

Legal liability for a birth defect can be established and set as basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit if the birth defect is linked to the mother being exposed to unreasonably dangerous prescription drugs without their knowing of the possible side effects to the babies. Insufficient warnings or blatantly hiding important side effect information would make the drug manufacturers liable for medical malpractice or product liability claims. Likewise, if the doctor performed inadequate prenatal care or made an error during the delivery of the baby that resulted to the birth defect, the doctor, nurses, or hospital can be held responsible for medical malpractice due to negligence.

Read More

True Equality in Marriage: Same-Sex Divorce

shutterstock_219219871Recent data indicates that same-sex married couples are running to catch up with their heterosexual counterparts in terms of divorce rates. With more and more states allowing same-sex marriages, more couples are eligible for marriage it is not unexpected that more of them will also be divorcing. It’s just a matter of the numbers; it is not necessarily a reflection of same-sex relationships.

It is not surprising that marriage-equality advocates would keep this fact on a low profile; it may add fuel for the anti-gay marriage movement, justified or not. However, the trend is toward even higher percentages of same-sex divorce as those who have been partners for years finally get married, leaving the arena to the younger, more impulsive, and less committed.

Same-sex couples who have waited years and lobbied hard for having the privilege of legal status in marriage have presumable gone through the test of time together and tended to stay married more than their heterosexual peers. But that is not true for the more recently together, and while only one percent of gay marriages end in divorce every year (compared to 2% for heterosexual marriages), that is expected to even out in the coming years.

But divorce for same-sex couples are a lot more complicated than heterosexual marriages, mostly because current laws are still in a bit of a mess. The federal Defense of Marriage Act figures into the equation plus different states have different laws on same-sex divorce and disposition of taxes, inheritance, pensions, and other typical issues in divorce. It can take some time before there is true equality for gay couples, not only in marriage but also in divorce, at least in the legal sense. In the meantime, gay couples will have to muddle along as best as they can with the help of an experienced family law attorney.

Read More

Night of the Wrongful Death

car accidentHalloween is considered by law enforcement to be one of the deadliest nights of the year, as it is the one night of the year that children are out on the streets at the same time as adults are getting drunk and behind the wheel. That is an unfortunate combination that, sadly, results in many preventable deaths.

Halloween 2014 ended with the deaths of three 13-year-old girls out trick or treating in California, while in Arizona 5 people (2 children and 3 adults, one in a wheelchair) survived when they were hit by a car while crossing a street but four of them are in critical condition.

In many cases, pedestrians are hit by vehicles operated by an impaired driver who was driving too fast pr failed to slow down at crosswalks. Many of the victims are children, some as young as two years old. But not every accident was caused by high blood alcohol content. One child was struck by a bus on the highway when the adults failed to properly supervise the toddler. On at least one occasion, the victim ran out into the street without looking.

In such instances, assigning fault is not always easy, although leaving the scene, which is what happened in several of the incidents, is already a crime in itself. Such tragic incidents often have long-reaching consequences for all parties concerned. It would be advisable for parents to closely supervise young children and caution older ones repeatedly while trick or treating.

Read More

Abortion Laws Challenged in Oklahoma

clinicIt seems that the battle between pro-choice and pro-life rages on despite the four decades the issue had to be resolved after the ruling in Roe v. Wade which established the constitutional right of women to privacy that limits how far the government can interfere in personal life decisions, which includes the right to abort. In Oklahoma, the right to abort is being effectively hamstrung in terms of legal and assisted abortion as two new laws (similar to laws in 8 other states) would effectively close down two of the three abortion clinics in the state.

The first law is SB 1848, or the Oklahoma Protection of Human Life Act of 2014, which requires that an abortion physician or clinic to have admitting privileges in a hospital in the vicinity. The second law is HB 2684, or Oklahoma Medication Abortion Ban, which restricts the use of abortifacient drugs i.e. mifepristone-misoprostol, by requiring physician administration and supervision, and none at all after the 49th day of pregnancy. Both laws go into effect on November 2014.

Pro-choice advocates condemn these new restrictions as a thinly-veiled attempt to shut down abortion clinics and to prevent women from getting a legal abortion. They say that such restrictions on legal abortion will only induce those who want one to do it illegally, which can seriously endanger their health.

The largest abortion provider in the state, Dr. Larry Burns, has sued the state to block the implementation of SB 1848, claiming that the law is unconstitutional. An earlier lawsuit was filed two days prior by the Reproductive Services, another abortion provider, to challenge HB 2684. Similar laws had already been ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, and the plaintiffs expect that the same fate will befall these two pieces of legislation.

Read More

Boundaries of Freedom of Speech

constitutionThe right of Americans to say what they mean, verbally or symbolically, is protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution. However, this does not mean that you can say anything to anyone anywhere at any time. There are boundaries that have been established over the years by the courts to ensure that the freedom of speech of one person does not impinge on the rights of other people or cause undue harm. The body of case law over this issue is extensive and complex, but there are some general rules that make it easier to determine when the line has been crossed in particular circumstances. Here are some instances where speech is not protected under the Constitution.

When it incites violence

Keep in mind that words can be powerful incentives to act. While a person who speaks may not be the physical actor in an illegal or violent event, if the words incite this type of event, he or she can be held criminally liable. A good example is inciting a group of people to kill or injure a certain type of person as a matter of principle. This presents a clear and present danger that has to be prevented.

When they are “fighting words”

It is not simply a comic way of describe derogatory, insulting, or obscene words that elicits an immediate, violent response from the listener. This is actually a legal doctrine to define when a verbal act is not protected and can be criminally punished.

When they are false

Libel and slander are the terms used for any verbal or written declaration that misleads the listeners into believing falsehoods about another person or an organization. There is no protection under the law for saying something which is not true and results in damage to the subject of the lies.

When it conflicts with government or social interests

When saying something can put others in danger, even if it is true, the freedom of speech can be suspended. In times of war, for example, broadcasting troop movements would be a breach of national security. In a trial, the court can issue a gag order on witnesses and attorneys to ensure fairness subject to certain criteria.

While Americans are justly proud of their constitutional rights, these are not absolute. There can be restrictions placed if the circumstances justify it.

Read More

Make a Connection