Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Asbestos Found in Crayons and Crime Scene Kits

A study commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund has found that four brands of children’s crayons and two kids’ crime scene fingerprint kits sold in the United States contain asbestos. This report follows two previous tests performed in 2000 and 2007 which found asbestos present in some crayons and finger printing kits. According to the labels, these products were made in China and imported to the U.S.

The two crime scene kits were found to contain higher concentrations of asbestos than the crayon samples. Also, the loose powders in the kits were found to pose a greater inhalation risk or airborne fibers than the crayons. None of the products warned users to avoid the dust. In fact, the instructions for the EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit instructs users to: “Put a small amount of dusting powder on the brush, use the blower to blow on the brush gently and then run the brush softly over the fingerprinted spot. Use the blower to blow off excess powder on top.”

The asbestos found in these products is present likely as a result of asbestos-contaminated talc used as a binding agent in the crayons and used as an ingredient in the powder of the crime scene kits. Asbestos has been found in many mines alongside talc deposits. Concerns about asbestos contamination of talc first surfaced in the early 1970s, but federal agencies have failed to enact rules to ensure that talc used in consumer and industrial products is asbestos-free.

Because of its widespread use in consumer products, the purity of commercial talc is a critical issue. It absorbs moisture, oils and odors and is added to many personal care products and pharmaceuticals. It is the basic ingredient in many body and food powders. It is also used as a filler for pills and is dusted on candy and used in the production of olive oil.

CNN contacted importers, distributors and retailers named in the report for comment. Representatives from Amazon, MII Inc. and Buy-Rite could not be reached. Spokes-persons for Dollar Tree, Party City, and Toys R Us have issued statement that their brands take the safety of consumers very seriously and are further investigating the findings of EWG’s report.

It is believed that children exposed to asbestos are at even greater risk of developing asbestos related diseases than persons exposed as adults. At this time, Connecticut is the only state which has imposed an outright ban of asbestos in children’s’ products.

Read the full report here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Why Does Asbestos Cause Mesothelioma?

Researchers out of Brazil have published findings from a new study that begins to help explain how asbestos ultimately causes mesothelioma in the human body.

Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil exposed pleural mesothelium cells in mice to crocidolite and chrysotile asbestos fibers and found that the asbestos exposed cells began over producing inflammatory cytokines, a type of protein. The healthy mesothelial cells also began experiencing apoptosis (programmed death) and necrosis (death from injury) at higher rates.

Researcher’s then neutralized the cytokines with antibodies to confirm their findings, and found that neutralizing the proteins effectively prevented further death to healthy mesothelial cells.

We know that mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers are ingested or inhaled, and lodge themselves in the tissue of the body. What is not known, is by what mechanisms asbestos causes the cell mutation that ultimately leads to the growth of cancerous cells. Identifying the proteins responsible for this mutation will hopefully allow researchers to develop preventative treatment for those exposed to asbestos.

Read the abstract here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bevacizumab Shows Promise in Treatment of Mesothelioma

For malignant pleural mesothelioma patients ineligible for surgery, treatment options are very limited. For the last ten years, the go to treatment has been chemotherapy utilizing pemetrexed and cisplatin, but that may be about to change due to promising new data from the French Cooperative Thoracic Intergroup (IFCT).

At the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2015 Annual Meeting, IFCT presented the results of a MAPS study in which pemetrexed and cisplatin, the current standard of care for mesothelioma were supplemented with bevacizumab and according to IFCT, showed (significantly) longer overall survival.

The MAPS study was randomized with 225 patients receiving the standard pemetrexed and cisplatin, and 223 patients receiving the triplet therapy of bevacizumab, pemetrexed, and cisplatin. Both groups in the study received six cycles of treatment, with Bevacizumab administered at a dose of 15 mg on day 1 of each cycle. At the end of the six cycles, the patients receiving the triplet continued to receive bevacizumab alone until there was a recurrence of disease. 75% of participants in the study were male with an average age of 65 years, disease histology among participants was 80% epithelioid.

Overall survival for patients receiving bevacizumab was 18.8 months compared with those only receiving pemetrexed and cisplatin at 16.1 months. Patients receiving bevacizumab also experienced longer time before disease recurrence, 9.6 months compared to 7.5 months for those on pemetrexed and cisplatin alone.

Anna Nowak, PhD, of the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, who partook in a discussion of the study was more circumspect. "The results of the MAPS trial were eagerly awaited," she said, but she was cautious in endorsing it as a new standard of care, because it appeared that long-term OS (overall survival) may be an issue when one looked at the "tail end" of the OS curves.

Natasha Leighl, MD, from Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, Canada, said that this data was "practice changing" for patients with mesothelioma, but noted that the drug is expensive.

"Its uptake may vary with geography particularly when the data are considered in the context of health economics and effectiveness," Dr. Nowak said. "Demand for a new standard of care will exist irrespective of the cost."

Read the article here.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mark Your Calendars! Register for PMC’s 4th Annual 5k Walk/Hike for Meso and Get Fundraising!

Worthington & Caron is pleased to announce that it will again serve as lead sponsor for the 4th Annual 5k Walk/Hike for Mesothelioma on September 27th, 2015 at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, California. The scenic walk/hike route is family and dog friendly, so bring your little ones and your pooches!

The event is hosted by The Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC) at the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI), with 100% of proceeds supporting PMC’s much-needed research for a cure for mesothelioma.

In years past, over 300 participants have joined with PMC to tell Meso “to take a hike!” “This year, we expect more than 400 participants to walk in solidarity to honor those who have lost the fight against mesothelioma and to raise money for research.” Clare Cameron, Executive Director of PMC said. “To date, PMC has raised over $5 million in the campaign to fund new research in the fight against mesothelioma.”

Last year’s event raised over $100,000; and in 2013 over $75,000 was raised. This year, with your help, we can break the record and raise even more!

Registration is $35 per person if you register before September 25, 2015. Day of event registration is $40. Participants will receive a t-shirt, enjoy live entertainment and a lunch catered by Ottavio's Ristorante Italiano. There will also be a raffle and silent auction with GREAT prizes!

The Paramount Ranch is located at 2903 Cornell Road in Agoura Hills. Registration will open at 9 a.m., with the walk/hike beginning at 10 a.m. You can walk as an individual, or start a team.

Register today, and don’t forget to start fundraising!

For more information, sponsorship opportunities and to register please visit PMC’s DoJiggy page, or contact Clare Cameron at 310-478-4678, or via email: ccameron@phlbi.org.

Take a look at past year’s events! 2014, 2013, 2012

India Continues to Deny Dangers of Asbestos

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, India continues to deny the dangers of asbestos. India’s $2 billion asbestos industry imports over 400,000 tons of asbestos a year, making it the world’s biggest importer of the deadly mineral.

The World Health Organization reports that 107,000 people die worldwide every year from exposure to asbestos, but India’s industry officials dismiss the WHO’s “claims” as rubbish, saying the statistics are meaningless. Even India’s top official in charge of hazardous materials and chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board denies there is any credible data showing that asbestos isn’t safe. Oddly enough, India banned the mining of asbestos some 30 years ago.

India can deny all they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that asbestos is indeed dangerous and deadly. Due to a lack of public awareness, poor record keeping, and poor enforcement of safety laws, it is hard to know how many of India’s citizens are getting sick. But as the country’s use of asbestos continues, the situation will only get worse.

Read more here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Putting Out the Fire: Working Toward a Strategy to Kill Mesothelioma if it Recurs

Mesothelioma can be like a campfire that won’t go out.

Even with the best surgical technique, chemotherapy and radiation, every doctor worth his or her salt will tell you that none of these therapies – alone or combined – will always put out the fire completely.

You can pour water on it, stomp on it and try to smother it, but no matter how diligent you are, the odds are if you dig deep and look hard enough you’ll find a glowing ember. Over time, that ember can eventually catch fire and spark a wildfire.

The word for that is “recurrence.”  As in, we’ll slash, poison or burn as much tumor as we can see, but after it’s all said and done there will still be micro-tumors seeding in your chest, which can eventually grow into a bigger tumor.

That’s not comforting. What is comforting is knowing that smart people are working on strategies to knock down recurring tumors before they can spark a wildfire. 

I’m pleased to continue supporting this important research initiative with another $100,000 donation to the Pacific Mesothelioma Center.  The scientists and doctors at PMC have developed a novel way of treating mesothelioma recurrences with cryoablation. The strategy involves delivery of compressed argon gas through a needle which freezes and kills the tumor cells on contact. The treatment is minimally invasive and can be done on an outpatient basis.

Cryoablation is currently being used to treat mesothelioma recurrences at the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Centers at both UCLA Medical Center and the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center
PMC is researching ways to enhance the effectiveness of cryoablation by combining it with cancer vaccines.   

At Worthington & Caron, we see every day the stress endured by mesothelioma patients. Not only do they have to worry about finding the right doctors to treat their cancer, they also have to contend with the probability that even if all goes well, they’ll still need to deal with a recurrence.

Mesothelioma patients are fortunate to have access to the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Centers at UCLA and the West Los Angeles VA. Doctors at each venue are uniquely qualified to both put out the fire, and knock it down again if it flares up down the road. 


Roger Worthington

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cracking the Code: Have We Found the Cause of “Idiopathic” Mesothelioma Among U.S. Women?

For years now the asbestos industry has denied full responsibility for mesothelioma among women in the U.S.  They have argued that for most women, mesothelioma is “idiopathic,” meaning “we don’t know what caused it” but, parenthetically, wink-wink, “we didn’t.”

They cite to all kinds of junk science to support their litigation-driven argument.  One report says that asbestos causes only 20% of mesothelioma diagnosed in U.S. women. [E.N. Pavlisko and T.A. Sporn] While another posits that 60% of mesothelioma diagnosed in U.S. women is simply “idiopathic,” a conclusion derived from the simple fact that these women did not have “occupational” exposure (as opposed to “domestic,” or “environmental” or whatever bizarre box they construct to shift liability).  [A Lacourt, C Gramond, et al, Feb. 7, 2014]

Watson and Crick
Cracking the Genetic Code
Boiled down, their argument is that: 1) only amphibole asbestos causes mesothelioma; 2) amphibole asbestos was used primarily in insulation and construction materials, 3) men (not stay at home women) primarily worked with amphibole asbestos materials; 4) ergo, asbestos primarily causes mesothelioma in men, not women.  

If you’re an asbestos company, this is a great, albeit self-serving, argument.  Most asbestos products sold in the U.S. contained mainly “chrysotile,” not “amphibole,” asbestos.

Not surprisingly, companies that made products with chrysotile asbestos routinely defend mesothelioma lawsuits based on this same argument.  Namely, they seek to prove that the patient was exposed to amphibole asbestos, which they agree causes mesothelioma, at some time in his or her lifetime.  They then try to convince the jury that it was the amphibole asbestos, not their “asbestos lite” chrysotile, that is the culprit.

Fortunately, most juries like solid evidence based on real science.

Recently, a jury in Los Angeles County considered these arguments and found them wanting.  As we have reported, the Winkel case involved claims against Colgate-Palmolive, which sold Cashmere Bouquet, a talcum powder laced with asbestos, for over five decades

It turns out that Cashmere Bouquet was impregnated with both kinds of asbestos – chrysotile and amphibole, depending on which of the three mines they sourced their talc.

As reported, this was the first case that made it to trial against Colgate-Palmolive.  For years the talcum powder industry has spent millions to crush plaintiffs and their lawyers who dared to prove their case to a jury.  As one of their lawyers warned us early on: if you continue this case, we will destroy you, your practice, your clients and your experts.

Why did they fight so ruthlessly?  Like their life depended on it?  We think we know why.

Go back to that high number of conveniently unexplained U.S. women diagnosed with mesothelioma.  Over 60%, they argued, were idiopathic.  Well, idiopathic simply means “we didn’t look hard enough.”  Truth is, they didn’t want anyone taking a hard look at their talcum powder.  You can’t blame them.  If you do look hard, the talcum powder industry is in big trouble.

No matter what box you throw it in – “occupational,” “environmental,” “domestic” or whatever - it’s the worst kind of exposure.  Millions of women used talcum powder.  They used it daily.  They liberally applied it all over their bodies.  They sprinkled it on their undergarments.  They powdered it on their babies.  The intended use of the product generated gobs of visible, fine and respirable dust.  And they never warned anyone that that fragrant fluffy white powder contained toxic and deadly asbestos.

Now questions are being asked.  What other cancers are caused by talcum powder?  For years women have been contracting ovarian cancer and we’ve never fully understood why.  Is ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder?  A jury recently answered “yes” to that question in a case against Johnson and Johnson (see http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-05-24/women-are-suing-johnson-johnson-over-talcum-powder).

Did we crack the code?  For the last 50 years how many of those U.S. women with “idiopathic” mesothelioma regularly used talcum powder after showering?  Our hunch is plenty.  And the sad part is the talcum powder industry has gotten away with it.


May 28, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3rd Annual, “The Greatest Escape” Motorcycle Ride is Back with Grand Marshal Fabio, Register Now!

Worthington & Caron is thrilled to announce that it will again serve as lead sponsor for the 3rd Annual “The Greatest Escape” Motorcycle Ride for Mesothelioma Research in Los Angeles. “The Greatest Escape” is inspired by actor and motorcycle enthusiast Steve McQueen, whose vibrant life was cut short by mesothelioma at the age of 50 on November 7, 1980. The Greatest Escape is hosted by The Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC) at the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI), with 100% of proceeds supporting PMC’s much-needed research for a cure for mesothelioma.

“The Greatest Escape” will take place on Sunday July 26, 2015. Sign-in and day of event registration begins at 8:30 AM, with the ride taking off at 10 AM from Glendale Harley-Davidson located at 3717 San Fernando Rd in Glendale. Riders will cruise along scenic Angeles Crest Highway led by this year’s celebrity grand marshal, actor/model and motorcycle enthusiast Fabio Lanzoni. The ride will finish at the legendary mountain-top roadhouse, Newcomb’s Ranch.

Upon arriving at Newcomb’s ranch, riders can kick back in the shade of the surrounding redwoods, enjoy a barbeque lunch, quench their thirst with a cold craft beer and be entertained by the rock band Cherry & the Bulldogs. There will also be raffle prizes and a live auction. K-Earth 101’s Morning Show host, Gary Bryan, will MC the event.

Registration for riders is $40, and $30 for passengers who pre-register by July 25, 2015. Day of event registration is $45 for riders and $35 for passengers. Participants will receive a commemorative pin, bandanna, and lunch. Non-riders are also welcome to join for $25 which covers lunch, entertainment, and parking.

For more information, sponsorship opportunities and to register please visit http://www.thegreatestescape.org/, or contact Clare Cameron at 310-478-4678, or via email: ccameron@phlbi.org.

The last two years raised over $100,000 for mesothelioma research! Help us break the record!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Deaths Caused by Exposure to Asbestos Much Higher Than Previously Estimated

The  Environmental Working Group (EWG) is reporting that the number of deaths caused by asbestos related disease in the U.S. is much higher than previously believed. Extensive analysis done by EWG Action Fund concludes that approximately 15,000 Americans die every year from asbestos-related diseases, that’s 5,000 more than previous estimates of 10,000 a year.

EWG analyzed death records from the Centers for Disease Control for 1999 to 2013, identifying all deaths attributed solely or in part to mesothelioma or asbestosis, and found that the actual number of deaths caused by exposure to asbestos is likely much higher. Asbestos exposure is now being linked in many cases to ovarian cancer, abdominal cancers, colorectal and laryngital cancers.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 107,000 people around the world die every year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Read the full report here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

FACT- Here We Go Again

If we've learned one thing, it's this: the asbestos industry is incapable of doing the right thing. Their history speaks for itself.  A legacy of lying, poisoning, cheating, obfuscating and denying. Billions spent on covering up their crimes. Thousands  of preventable and premature deaths. Millions spent on lobbyists to change the laws to make it harder for victims to get to a jury. Nary a nickel invested in prevention or cure.

Every few years, the Asbestos industry gathers up their favorite politicians and prop up another bail out bill. The last one they called the FAIR act even though a six year old understood that the bill was anything but fair. The most recent effort is another fine tribute to George Orwell's dire warnings of the encroachment of "doublespeak" -- the FACT act (Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency). It's mission is to make it more difficult for asbestos cancer plaintiffs to get a fair trial with a chance for a full, honest and fair recovery. But, again, even a six year old understands that the only thing "transparent" about the FACT act is it's grotesque support of the abusers and abject criminalization of the abused.

Please read the article below posted by Susan Vento, whose husband Congressman Bruce Vento died from mesothelioma 15 years ago. (Susan has spoken out about this bill as far back as 2013.)  Bruce was one of the good guys. At the time, we advocated that Congress recognize Bruce's work by creating a mesothelioma research and treatment plan in his name. Congress, alas, looked the other way. Instead of launching an effort to cure asbestos cancer, they've instead chosen to spend the people's time ginning up embarrassing corporate bail out bills. 

Stay tuned. Like the Terminator, they're back, and they simply will not stop, unless we stop them. 
Asbestos Victims to Congress: Stop Fast-Tracking Legislation That Would Violate Victims' Privacy  By Susan Vento, May 13, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Spirit of John Johnson Alive and Well at the 2015 Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling

Karl Menzies
Wins the 2015
Dana Point Grand Prix
Dana Point, CA. The Men’s Pro race at the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling this weekend exemplified what the John Johnson Family is all about – celebrating life, rewarding risks, never giving up, and going for the gusto.

John Johnson is well known on these pages. John passed away from mesothelioma in 2012. His family had every reason to be bitter. John was misdiagnosed by the VA. When he was diagnosed, an inexperienced VA surgeon attempted to operate on the tumor but aborted.

John finally found Dr. Robert Cameron, who performed a grueling 11 hour operation. But it would prove to be too late to save John from his unrelenting disease.

Wanting justice, John pursued a lawsuit against the companies who poisoned him with asbestos. His health was declining. But John knew that if he did not complete his testimony, the defendants would win and his family would be stuck with the ever-increasing bill for his illness.

One tough Marine, John hung on and preserved the record for his family so the case would live on. He passed away shortly after completing this final mission.

Michael Johnson Family
The Johnsons prevailed in their lawsuit, thanks to John’s warrior spirit and love of family. Thereafter, the Johnson family embraced John’s warrior spirit and has fought to prevent their tragedy from smacking down other families.

The Johnsons lobbied for a change in California law to make it less burdensome for ill plaintiffs to enforce their legal rights. They prevailed. They then lobbied to create a Mesothelioma Center of Excellence at the VA hospital in West Los Angeles, headed by Dr. Cameron. Again, they prevailed.

The Johnson family stands for hope, for life, and for winning, against impossible odds. For the past three years, they have been the lead sponsor of the Dana Point Grand Prix Pro Men’s race. Son Michael Johnson is a world class athlete, and he’s been using cycling as a vehicle to get the message of hope out for mesothelioma patients.

The racers heard the message. They went from the gun, all out, never looking back, not making excuses, and charged hard like it was their last race ever. A breakaway of four formed early and they held off the charging peloton at the line.

Roger Worthington, Mary and Terry
Latham and John Caron
Karl Menzies of United Health Care, a tough, savvy and muscular veteran pro hailing from Tasmania, took the victory. He was followed by youngsters Tyler Magner (Hincapie Racing), from Georgia, and Canadian Ryan Aitcheson of Team Astellas.

It was especially gratifying to have on hand another mesothelioma warrior, Terry Latham, and his lovely wife Mary. Terry, now 74 years old, was operated on by Dr. Cameron in June of 2010. Having recently celebrated his fifth year as a survivor, Terry continues to love life and go for the gusto!

Well done bike racers! Kudos to the City of Dana Point for hosting a world class event! Thank you John Johnson Family! And may the spirit keep moving you Terry and Mary Latham!


Roger Worthington

Future Pro Racer

Latest Lung-Sparing Therapies, Patient Resources and “Hollywood Ending” at Pacific Meso Center’s 5th International Symposium

Dr. Robert Cameron
The Pacific Meso Center, in conjunction with The Office of Continuing Medical Education of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, held the 5th International Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma on May 2nd, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. The Worthington & Caron Law Firm was proud to again be the platinum sponsor of this unique medical seminar focusing on rational treatment options for patients with pleural mesothelioma.

As in years past, the course organizer and chair of the symposium was thoracic surgeon and pleural mesothelioma specialist, Dr. Robert Cameron. An ardent supporter of rational lung-sparing treatments for pleural mesothelioma, and innovator of the pleurectomy/decortication (“PD”) surgical procedure, Dr. Cameron is the founder and director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at both the UCLA Medical Center and the West Los Angeles Veterans’ Administration Medical Center.

International Panel of Specialists Discuss Latest Treatment Developments

Dr. Walter Weder
Dr. Cameron started the program with a presentation regarding the pros and cons of extending lung-sparing surgery to include the diaphragm and pericardium. Reviewing relevant study data along with his experience treating patients at UCLA and the West Los Angeles VA, Dr. Cameron concluded that it is preferable to limit the procedure to where the tumor is already present. Resection of the diaphragm and pericardium poses a risk of spreading tumor cells distantly to the abdomen and contralateral pleura and is not necessary in most patients.

In a second presentation, Dr. Cameron addressed the potential role of vaccines as an immunotherapy agent in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. He explained how vaccines can be used to overcome the immunosuppressive microenvironment of tumor cells. He sees a potential for using vaccines before, during and/or after lung- sparing surgery for pleural mesothelioma.

Dr. Walter Weder, Head of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Zurich Hospital in Switzerland, gave a presentation on his experience in transitioning from Extra-Pleural Pneumonectomy (“EPP”) to lung-sparing PD as the preferred surgical treatment for pleural mesothelioma. He also addressed a new study at the University of Zurich exploring the efficacy of a strategy to improve local control after surgery. The study, which is in its very early stages, involves spraying a mixture of Cisplatin and fibrin intraoperatively to the tumor site.

Dr. Percy Lee
Dr. Marc de Perrot, Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto, addressed the present and future use of IMRT radiation therapy before surgery. He addressed a recent study showing encouraging results for patients with epithelial mesothelioma who received one week of hemithoracic IMRT before surgery. Dr. Perrot suggested that in future studies, the protocol should be refined to include an immunotherapy agent.

Three separate presentations regarding topics relating to adjuvant radiation therapies were presented by Dr. Percy Lee, Chief of Thoracic Radiation Oncology and member of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Peter Chen, Radiation Oncologist at Hoag Family Cancer Institute, and Dr. Shilpen Patel, Associate Professor at the University of Washington Medical Center. The presentations revealed that recent advancements in technology and treatment methods, including helical tomotherapy, have decreased toxicity and increased the effectiveness of adjuvant radiation therapy.

Dr. Olga Olevsky
Dr. Olga Olevsky, Oncologist and member of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA, addressed recent developments in systemic therapies for pleural mesothelioma, including numerous immunotherapy treatments and treatments involving cancer stem cells. Dr. Olevsky indicated that as more systemic therapies become available, developments in identifying and correlating biomarkers may allow doctors to identify which therapy will be most effective for a given patient.

Dr. J. Andrea McCart, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto Department of Surgery, presented the results of a recent study regarding the use of virotherapy as adjuvant to debulking surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma. She also presented the results of animal studies involving the use of virotherapy in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma, concluding that the favorable results suggest that it should be developed for use in humans.

Dr. Raymond Wong
Pacific Meso Center Research Scientist Raymond Wong, PhD gave a presentation regarding the results of his study at the Pacific Meso Center Lab in Los Angeles using mesenchymal stem cells to deliver drugs to tumor cells to increase the effectiveness of immunotherapy agents. He noted the opportunity to incorporate delivery via mesenchymal stem cells with the many studies that are currently being conducted for the new PD-1 immune checkpoint blocking drugs.

Patient Resources and Advocacy

Lien Hua-Feng,
Nurse Practitioner
Lien Hua-Feng, Nurse Practitioner at the Pacific Meso Center, gave an eye-opening presentation regarding deceitful tactics employed by disreputable lawyers seizing on the vulnerability of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma. She provided examples of websites appearing to be maintained by medical professionals offering free assistance with medical treatment and contacting mesothelioma specialists. But the “disclaimer page” on the sites reveals that they are really maintained by a law firm and should not be relied upon for making medical decisions. She explained that, instead of getting reliable medical information, patients who contact the sites are besieged with calls from so-called “patient advocates” or attorneys seeking to sign them as clients. Nurse Hua-Feng warned patients of the importance of turning to “real” medical professionals for reliable medical information and experienced attorneys for reliable legal information.

Linda Reinstein, President and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, gave a presentation on recent legislation regarding asbestos and the status of her ongoing efforts to get congress to enact a meaningful ban of asbestos in the United States.

“Hollywood Ending”

Clare Cameron
Pacific Meso Center Executive Director Clare Cameron gave an enlightening presentation regarding the long-standing use of asbestos in the film industry and the number of actors and production workers who have been stricken with mesothelioma. She provided shocking statistics about the amount of asbestos used in such classic movies as “Wizard of Oz,” “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The symposium concluded with an emotional presentation from Mia Lauter, wife of actor Ed Lauter, who appeared in over 550 feature productions and lost his life to mesothelioma in 2013. She explained that when Ed was diagnosed, the only treatment options his doctor told him about were chemotherapy and amputation of his lung though EPP. Ed eventually had chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter.

Mia expressed regret over not knowing about the Pacific Meso Center at the time, and how, with information about additional treatment options such as the lung-sparing treatments available through UCLA and Dr. Cameron, Ed’s situation could have been different.

Mia and Ed Lauter
Mia is converting her grief into action to improve the outcomes of others who contract mesothelioma, both in and out of the entertainment industry. She is working with PMC to hold a fundraising gala in November at the SLS Hotel in Hollywood. Ed’s good friend and former co-star Liam Neeson has committed to participate in the event which will raise much needed funds for mesothelioma research conducted by PMC.

Mia stated that when Ed was diagnosed, he and others afflicted with mesothelioma needed a “louder voice.” Now, with her commitment to raising awareness and the need for research, mesothelioma sufferers will have a “Lauter voice!”

The Pacific Meso Center plans to release videos of the symposium presentations on its website in the coming weeks.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fight Mesothelioma, Raise Awareness, Have Fun

This Sunday, May 3, sunny Dana Point, California will host the 9th Annual Dana Point Grand Prix (DPGP). Professional cyclists, amateurs, and kids (yes kids!) will race around downtown Dana Point in the largest single day criterion race in America!

The races will begin at 7:00 a.m. sharp and will include 13 races total, including free Youth Races sponsored by the Dana Point Community Cycling Foundation. There will also be a $12,000 Pro Women’s criterium prize, the largest in Southern California history. It’s not all about cycling of course, there will be music, food, and craft beer to be enjoyed by all, cyclist or not.

In remembrance of John Johnson and his courageous fight against Mesothelioma, the Johnson Family is sponsoring the final event of the day, the John Johnson Family Pro NCC Classic for the third year in a row.  John Johnson was a veteran and plumber who was poisoned by asbestos, contracted mesothelioma, underwent aggressive treatment to prolong his life, but ultimately succumbed to the disease. 

John Johnson Family
After his death, the Johnson family set out to increase public awareness of this horrible disease which disproportionately affects military veterans, by providing substantial funding for a mesothelioma treatment center at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, and by pushing for changes in the law which impacts the rights of all mesothelioma sufferers. John’s son, Michael, is a competitive cyclist who will be participating in the day’s events and is also a hard-charging advocate and source of information and support for mesothelioma patients and their families.

We would love to see you there!

All Proceeds from the DPGP Youth Races benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley.

For registration information, details, and directions, click here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jury Finds Colgate-Palmolive Talcum Powder Causes Mesothelioma, Awards $13 Million.

Los Angeles County, CA  

A jury in Los Angeles County (Chatsworth) yesterday on April 28, 2015 unanimously found that Colgate-Palmolive’s Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder, which they sold from the 1930s to 1995, caused our client Judith Winkel’s malignant pleural mesothelioma.

The jury deliberated just two hours. They found that Colgate failed to warn consumers about their defective product, among other violations. The jury also found that Colgate, which denied that their product contained asbestos, was guilty of malice, which exposed Colgate to possible punitive damages.

On nearly a daily basis from 1961 to 1977, Judith Winkel used Cashmere Bouquet Talcum powder, primarily after showering. Like every other consumer, she loved the fragrance but had no idea the silky white powder could later cause one of the most insidious cancers known to medicine.

This was the first verdict ever against Colgate-Palmolive, whose army of lawyers argued that their product did not contain asbestos, that Judith Winkel did not use their product, that her life would not be shortened by mesothelioma, and that if she was exposed, the amount was too small to cause mesothelioma.

The jury disagreed, finding that Colgate’s Cashmere Bouquet Talcum Powder was 95% responsible for Judith Winkel’s mesothelioma. The evidence showed that Colgate purchased its talc from mines in Italy, North Carolina, and Montana, and the talc was contaminated with up to 20% asbestos fiber, including the most toxic form of asbestos (viz., amphibole).

The evidence also showed that scientists had begun detecting asbestos in talcum powder since 1942, but Colgate did not begin testing its Cashmere Bouquet for asbestos until 1971. At that time, Colgate was warned that their talcum powder contained dangerous levels of asbestos. But Colgate neither alerted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the health risks, nor did they warn consumers that exposure to their product could cause cancer. 

Judith, a 73 year-old retired office clerk, mother and grandmother who has been married to husband John “Cubby” Winkel since 1964, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in early 2014. She was operated on by Dr. Robert Cameron of UCLA Medical School. Dr. Cameron noted that thoracic surgeons regularly use talcum powder in mesothelioma patients to retard the spread of the tumor, but when they do so they require that the talcum powder be certified as “asbestos free.”

“This trial was about accountability,” said John Winkel. “Colgate made a dangerous product but they refused to admit it. Judy and I are thankful that the jury was not bamboozled by their shenanigans. Now we just want to enjoy the time we have.”

The case was tried by our co-counsel, David Greenstone and Chris Panatier, of Simon Greenstone Panatier  and Bartlett (SGPB). A Colgate lawyer proudly boasted before trial that they would destroy our respective law firms, the Winkels and our experts. Their lawyer also warned us that their war chest to win this case was virtually bottomless.

“While we celebrate the first verdict ever against Colgate-Palmolive, and are thankful for the jury’s service, as well as the courageous work of our colleagues at SGBP,” said Roger Worthington of Worthington & Caron, P.C. “We are also mindful that Judy continues to live with mesothelioma. She and Cubby deserve compensation, but what they really want is to be able to play with their grandchildren and tend to their garden. With Dr. Cameron’s expert guidance, we are hopeful that Judy will be eligible for experimental therapies that will buy her many more years with her grandchildren and her flowers.”

“Dr. Cameron is an incredible physician,” said Cubby. “We are so thankful for his dedication. He’s always been there for us. This is a tough cancer with a bad prognosis but we’re thankful that Dr. Cameron and his team keep searching for a cure.”

Roger Worthington
April 29, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It’s Not Too Late! Register Today for the 5th International Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma!

It’s not too late to register! Join us this weekend as some of the world’s leading mesothelioma experts and advocates highlight the most promising medical advances in mesothelioma treatment and cutting-edge new research.

The 5th International Mesothelioma Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma will be held this Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Santa Monica California  at Le Méridien Delfina hotel, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Experts will also discuss methods of surgical removal, including the shift from extra-pleural pnuemonectomy to lung-sparing procedures, as well as the findings from the Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy (SMART) trial.

The Symposium also provides an opportunity for physicians and nurses to earn continuing medical education (CME) credit. For more information, click here or call 1-888-996-MESO (6376).

Reserve your spot today!
For a copy of the brochure, click here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

UCLA’s Innovative Approach Improves Treatment Options for Patients with Mesothelioma

In the spring 2015 edition of the UCLA quarterly newsletter, Vital Signs, UCLA’s Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program presents their innovative approach to treating this complex and difficult to treat cancer.

As one of the early pioneers for the lung-sparing Pleurectomy / Decortication (PD) over the Extrapleural Pneumonectomy surgery, Dr. Robert Cameron, director of the UCLA Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program, has long believed that leaving the lung intact and removing only the pleura and visible cancer cells surrounding the lungs is most beneficial to the patients long term survival and quality of life. According to Dr. Cameron, “There is no current treatment that will eradicate every cell, but our goal is to help patients live for a long time with their disease while maximizing their quality of life.”

After surgery, patients are then treated with a form of high dose radiation called TomoTherapy, which is delivered to the cancer site with much greater precision than common radiation therapy, patients also experience fewer negative side effects as a result of the localized treatment.

The Comprehensive Mesotheloma team at UCLA has also pioneered treatments to address tumor regrowth after the initial treatment, including immunotherapy and cryoablation. Continual low-dose administration of interferon can delay the regrowth of tumors in some patients for five to ten years. If nodules resurface, cryoablation, a minimally invasive outpatient procedure which freezes the tumor cells and kills them can also be used instead of chemotherapy.

Dr. Cameron’s team wants to approach mesothelioma care similar to the approach of treating a chronic disease such as diabetes, holistically and with continuous support. Given how rare mesothelioma is, Dr. Cameron stresses patients to be treated at a specialty cancer center like UCLA with experience and ongoing research in this disease.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Cameron at UCLA please call his office at (310) 470-8980.