Thursday, March 26, 2015

Meso Web-Surfers: Beware of Hidden Rocks

Dozens of websites would have you believe that they are in some official capacity associated with a doctor.
They suggest that by filling out a form, they will arrange to set up an appointment for you with a well-known and respected doctor. By so doing, they imply that they have a special if not formal relationship with that esteemed doctor and his employer, and that the famous doctor has endorsed their company. 
All of these suggestions are false. 

It's common sense that if you want to schedule an appointment with a doctor, no matter how famous he or she is, or where they practice, you simply need to call that doctor's office. 
Mesothelioma is a rare tumor and options are limited. There are regrettably only a handful of skilled surgeons, oncologists, radiologists and immunologists who hold themselves out as "experts" in treating Mesothelioma patients. Each of these doctors, whether it's Dr. David Sugarbarker, or Dr. Harvey Pass, or Dr. Robert Cameron, are I'm sure flattered to be recognized as experts.

But, to my knowledge, none of these doctors has officially sponsored or endorsed a mesothelioma marketing firm.

We suggest the following model be used in helping patients find the best medical care. List the doctor's name, specialty, experience, and contact information. 

For example:

Dr. Robert Cameron, MD
UCLA Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Surgical Oncologist, Director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA
Contact Administrator Martha Martinez at (310) 470-8980.

Dr. Robert Cameron, MD
West Los Angeles Veteran Administration Chief of Thoracic Surgeon
Contact Cardiothoracic Surgery Case Manager Almaz Tesfasilase at (310) 268-4543.

Dr. Robert Cameron, MD
Pacific Mesothelioma Center Scientific Advisor
Contact Executive Director Clare Cameron at (310) 478-4678.

Web-surfers: finding a doctor is not a fun process, time is precious and anxiety is high. Beware of marketers masquerading as medical liaisons. Don’t let them exploit your vulnerability.

Here’s a list of a few sites that purport to act as agents for scheduling appointments with Dr. Robert Cameron, the UCLA Medical Center and the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

UCLA Health Releases New Video Chronicling Treatment of Six-Year Meso Survivor Martha Munoz

Martha and Arturo Munoz
On March 23, 2015, UCLA Health released a new video which chronicles the medical treatment of Worthington & Caron, PC client Martha Munoz. Martha was 68 years old when she was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in March 2009. Her husband Arturo states in the video that Martha’s doctors were giving her only 9 to 10 months to live.

In April 2009, Martha consulted with Dr. Robert Cameron, thoracic surgeon and director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA Medical Center. The video chronicles Martha’s treatment at UCLA, beginning with a lung-sparing pleurectomy/decortication surgery performed by Dr. Cameron in May 2009.

“Surgery is actually the most reliable treatment,” Dr. Cameron states in the video, “The goal is to remove all tumor we can see and take it off the lung and leave the lung in place." 

The video shows a striking comparison of radiology films of Martha’s right lung before and after the surgery. The “before” films show tumor encasing and compressing the lung, making it extremely difficult to breathe. The “after” films show all visible tumor gone and the lung expanding fully to the rib cage.

Following the surgery, Martha’s treatment included chemotherapy, state-of-the-art tomotherapy and novel cryoablation therapy which freezes and destroys new small tumors.

As Dr. Cameron explains, “Our idea is to treat this as a chronic disease, so what we do is use surgery to get rid of all the tumor we can see and use the other things like radiation, immunotherapy and cryoablation to keep it that way, just like we do with other chronic diseases that people can live a long time with.”

The video reports that six years after her diagnosis, Martha is now cancer free. “This is what you call a miracle,” says Arturo. While Martha states, “We are a very close family, and with God’s help and Dr. Cameron’s help, I can have a healthy longer life.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Cameron:

Contact his office at (310) 470-8980.

Dr. Cameron sees patients in consultation at his Los Angeles, California clinic located at:

Thoracic Surgery Associates
10780 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 100
Los Angeles, CA 90025-7613

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Asbestos Bills Before Congress, but will Meaningful Legislature Finally be Passed?

A new bill has been introduced to congress this week which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to re-consider a ban on asbestos, and many other toxic chemicals that have been found to cause cancer, developmental disorders, respiratory disorders, neurological disorders, and more. The Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act, is named after Alan Reinstein, who died in 2006 at the age of 66 from mesothelioma, and Trevor Schaefer, a brain cancer survivor who was diagnosed at the age of 13.

The bill would also protect states’ rights to evaluate within their own government whether or not to ban toxic and dangerous chemicals that industry backed representatives want grouped together under the more corporate friendly federal law.

The EPA attempted to ban most asbestos products in 1989, which would have prohibited the manufacture, import, processing or distribution of most asbestos containing products. However, a 1991 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected much of the rule, undoubtedly under pressure from industry funded representatives.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), one of the bill’s authors has been one of the most vocal outliers of chemical policy reform since efforts to fix the law began.  “Our citizens deserve nothing less than a bill that protects them – not chemical companies.”

Another bill, The Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database Act, or READ Act, which was introduced last week in congress, seeks to establish an online database which would be administered by the EPA and detail products that contain asbestos, and where asbestos can be found. This is a direct response to the industry friendly bill, The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act, (The FACT Act) which supporters claim is an attempt to protect future asbestos disease victims right to compensation, but is really an attempt to curtail and delay current victims right to compensation and further limit the liability companies face. Under the new law, people and companies that knowingly manufacture, process, distribute or sell products containing asbestos will be fined $10,000 a day if they fail to report to the EPA.

"Every year, far too many Americans and their families suffer the deadly consequences of asbestos exposure," says U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, (D-Ill), "The goal of this legislation is simple: Increase the transparency and accessibility of data informing the public about where asbestos is known to be present. This information will increase awareness, reduce exposure and help save lives."

Linda Reinstein, wife of deceased Alan Reinstein, president and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, said she strongly supports the READ Act. "Undoubtedly, the READ Act will save lives and dollars," she said in a statement. "One life lost from a preventable asbestos-caused disease is tragic, hundreds of thousands is unconscionable."

A lot of bills are floating around congress right now that contain the word asbestos. Some of these bills are straightforward, with the goal to protect citizens from the dangers of asbestos and hope to see this material finally banned in this country. Others are written under the guise of protecting citizens, but it’s clear if you read between the lines, and look at the track records and associates of the authors of said bills, that the goal is to protect the companies who knowingly exposed the good people of this country to the deadly material in the first place.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lethal and Still Legal: Asbestos Flows into U.S. Ports

March 10, 2015

New National Campaign to Raise Awareness of Continuing Threats from Asbestos

Washington, D.C. – Many Americans believe asbestos was banned decades ago. But the deadly substance remains legal, with more than 8 million pounds entering U.S. ports since 2006, according to an analysis of federal trade data released today by the EWG Action Fund.

The analysis is the first in a series of investigations in the Action Fund’s new national campaign, Asbestos Nation. The campaign will raise awareness of the dangers asbestos continues to pose to public health, push for full transparency of the asbestos industry, including where the substance is used, and urge policymakers in Washington to take concrete steps to restrict the use of asbestos, including through imports.

“Federal health officials were blocked in their attempts to ban asbestos more than 25 years ago, and since then this notorious carcinogen has killed tens of thousands of Americans,” said Heather White of the EWG Action Fund. “Asbestos is still on the market and still dangerous at even the smallest exposures.”

“This campaign aims to build an overwhelming chorus of public support for full transparency from the asbestos industry and a ban of asbestos imports,” White said. “The Obama administration and Congress must take action to curb Americans’ exposure to asbestos.”

According to records obtained by the EWG Action Fund, from 2006 to 2014, at least 23 U.S. seaports received more than 8.2 million pounds of raw asbestos, as well as hundreds of shipments of hazardous asbestos waste and products made with asbestos.

The port records show that most raw asbestos imports – more than 7.6 million pounds – arrived at the ports of New Orleans and Houston, but more than 600,000 pounds came in through Newark, Long Beach, and four other ports. More than 100 shipments of asbestos products or hazardous asbestos waste entered the U.S. through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. From ports, shipments of asbestos went by rail or truck to industrial facilities, wholesalers and waste dumps in 29 states.

The port records are not readily accessible by the public. The EWG Action Fund obtained them through a paid subscription to a proprietary database. Many of the records were incomplete, with substantial omissions of vital information, including the amounts and whereabouts of asbestos brought into the U.S.

In its most recent annual minerals report, the U.S. Geological Survey says that last year, the U.S. used about 882,000 pounds of asbestos, an estimate based only on imports through the first half of the year. But port records show that about 964,000 pounds of raw asbestos were imported last year, leaving more than 82,000 pounds unaccounted for by the Geological Survey’s estimate.

In a related development, legislation introduced today by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill) would set up a federal online database of information about products that contain asbestos and where those items are likely to be found.

The Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act would require all those who manufacture, import or handle the deadly substance to report annually to the Environmental Protection Agency about their “products and any publicly-accessible location in which the products have been known to be present in the past year,” according to Durbin’s office.

“Senator Durbin’s plan would give concerned citizens valuable information that they can use to avoid coming into contact with this lethal substance,” White said.

Asbestos-related diseases kill an estimated 10,000 Americans a year, including many who were not exposed on the job. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, an excruciatingly painful scarring of the lungs, and mesothelioma, an always-fatal cancer that can strike the lungs, heart, stomach or testicles.

In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a comprehensive ban of asbestos, including imports, under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. After a challenge by the asbestos industry, a federal appeals court dismissed the ban, saying that the EPA failed to show it was necessary to protect public health.

“The fact that the government could not ban a killer like asbestos under TSCA shows how weak the law is and how it has utterly failed to protect public health,” said White. “On behalf of those who have died from asbestos exposure and the families they’ve left behind, it’s high time that Congress and the President rewrite the law.”

This project is funded by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) to educate the public, conduct original research and advocate for strong policy reform to protect people from the ongoing dangers of asbestos exposure.

Durbin Introduces Bill To Help American Workers, Families Avoid Asbestos Exposure

March 10, 2015

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – With asbestos-related diseases still claiming as many as 10,000 American lives every year, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation today that will help Americans avoid exposure to the potentially deadly substance by increasing the amount of information available to the public about where it is found. Asbestos is a carcinogenic substance that increases the risk of mesothelioma and other cancers in those who are exposed to it. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 107,000 deaths worldwide each year are attributable to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is banned in many countries, but it is not banned in the United States and it is still imported into the country and can be found in many American products and locations. Today’s legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA).
“Every year, far too many Americans and their families suffer the deadly consequences of asbestos exposure. The goal of this legislation is simple: increase the transparency and accessibility of data informing the public about where asbestos is known to be present. This information will increase awareness, reduce exposure, and help save lives,” Durbin said.  
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Asbestos Information Act into law, requiring manufacturers and processors of asbestos-containing material to report information about their products to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, the law only include a one-time reporting requirement, and because it pre-dated the use of the internet, information was published in the Federal Register and was not easily accessible to most Americans.
The Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act introduced by Durbin today modernizes the reporting requirements of the Asbestos Information Act to ensure that Americans have transparent, accessible and up-to-date information about the identities and known locations of asbestos-containing products. The READ Act requires those who manufacture, import or otherwise handle asbestos-containing products to annually report information to the EPA about their products and any publicly-accessible location in which the products have been known to be present in the past year. The READ Act would direct this information to be made easily accessible on a searchable online database.
“Asbestos exposure remains a serious public health threat, with at least 10,000 Americans dying each year from asbestos-related illnesses,” said Heather White, Executive Director of Environmental Working Group and the EWG Action Fund. “Senator Durbin’s plan would give concerned citizens valuable information that they can use to avoid coming into contact with this lethal substance.”
“As a mesothelioma widow and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), I strongly support the Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act. For more than a century, asbestos exposure has been known to cause debilitating diseases and deaths. Worse yet, most Americans cannot identify asbestos or manage the risk. Undoubtedly, the READ Act will save lives and dollars. One life lost from a preventable asbestos-caused disease is tragic, hundreds of thousands is unconscionable,” said Linda Reinstein, President and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO).
Durbin has been a longtime advocate of protecting Americans from the harms of asbestos exposure and helping the victims of asbestos-related diseases and their families.  In 2010, Senator Durbin received the “Tribute of Hope” award from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization for his efforts to promote awareness of the hazards of asbestos and to reduce the presence of asbestos in American products.