The "Hotel Melanoma" moniker is a metaphor for living with my particular brand of cancer. Except for those lucky few of us deemed "cured", all we cancer survivors are guests of one of the many, many branded hotels in the "Hotel Carcinoma" chain. We can check out any time we like, but we can never leave. Meanwhile, let's be livin' it up; and please support cancer education, prevention, and treatment research.

Tutu Brothers

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lawyers, Drugs and Money

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing a slew of cheesy cable TV ads from plaintiff’s lawyers who are soliciting lawsuit clients who’ve taken Viagra and subsequently been diagnosed with melanoma. (Not that they’re talking to me, I might add.) So what’s going on here and why aren’t we seeing a similar volume of ads aimed at melanoma patients who’ve used tanning beds?

A study published this past summer found that Viagra may increase a man’s risk for melanoma. To be precise, the study found that 4.3 of every 1000 men who didn’t take Viagra developed melanoma, compared to 8.6 of every 1000 men who did take Viagra. The study does not prove that Viagra causes melanoma—it only shows a statistical correlation between men who take Viagra and men who develop melanoma, a correlation that may be attributable to some yet-to-be-determined factor common to both Viagra users and melanoma patients.

Compare this single study to the much-larger body of scientific evidence cited in The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer linking UV radiation exposure to an increased risk of skin cancer. In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified indoor tanning devices as Class I human carcinogens on the basis of strong evidence linking indoor tanning to increased risk of skin cancer. So why aren’t plaintiff’s lawyers showing a similar degree of zeal for soliciting clients for tanning bed lawsuits?

I strongly suspect the answer is a simple one: relatively easy money. Viagra is manufactured by Pfizer, a deep-pocketed defendant which reported net profits in 2013 of $22 billion. Big Pharma has a track record of paying out large sums of money in pre-trial settlements when confronted with thousands of claims that a drug caused injury, even when those claims are based on less-than-conclusive scientific evidence. Compare the financial lure to a plaintiff’s lawyer of a Viagra lawsuit against Pfizer to that of a melanoma patient who years ago frequented a variety of tanning beds that were made my several different manufacturers and operated by several different tanning salon owners which, relative to Pfizer, aren’t deep-pocketed defendants and may not even still be in business.

But I certainly haven’t given up hope and optimism that the indoor tanning industry will, sooner or later, find itself the target of a large volume of personal injury claims from thousands of former customers who contracted melanoma, lawsuits that may shrink or even sink this carcinogen-peddling industry. There are personal injury lawyers out there who appear to have a strong interest in representing melanoma patients who were injured by tanning beds. Just don’t hold your breath while waiting to see those lawyers advertising for clients on cable TV.

Until next time, here’s The Hotel Melanoma take on Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money”…

They did roam for the plaintiffs
The way they always do
How was I to know
C was in the
Drug pill blue?

He was gagging on Viagra
He took a little risk
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
They'll get him out of this, hyeah

I'm the innocent fried tanner
Somehow I got stuck
Between a blog
And a hard case
And I'm down on my luck
Yes I'm down on my luck
Well I'm down on my luck

I'm hiding in long burkas
I'm a desperate man
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
The shit just hit the fan

All right
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
It’s lawyers, drugs and money

1 comment:

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