Extra Extra : Consumer protection

After 13 years of wariness, FDA approves five potentially harmful new diet drugs

After 13 years of rejecting new diet drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed five potentially harmful products on the market in the last three years — including two in the last four months. The agency approved the drugs despite the potential for serious side effects — including suicidal thinking, increased heart rate and cancer risk — and no proof the drugs improve the main health concern posed by obesity: heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. 

Critics worry the new products will repeat the diet-drug mistakes of the past, which have led to decades of injuries, deaths and, in the ...

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After report, prosecutors charge man in connection with real estate fraud scheme

Prosecutors have charged a man in connection with a widespread real estate fraud scheme detailed in reports by KSHB-Kansas City.

Willis L. Watson, 35, faces nine different counts of felony forgery and theft, according to KSHB’s latest report.

Reporter Ryan Kath found that someone had been stealing homes by forging signature of both the living and the dead. Often, he found, the homeowners had no idea.

Kath discussed the investigation as part of IRE’s "Behind the Story" and "Story Shorts" series. 

Businessmen tied to Florida cruise company repeatedly deceived customers

An NBC 6 South Florida investigation into the Ft. Lauderdale-based travel company Caribbean Cruise Line found that the company has been burdening customers with hidden fees and refusing refunds. The Better Business Bureau has received over 1400 complaints about the company, the station found.

Five years ago a Florida judge prohibited two businessmen connected with the company from charging any fees above the advertised price.  At the time the two owned Imperial Majesty, but they later went on to dissolve the corporation, leaving millions in unpaid fines. These two men are now partial sponsors of Caribbean Cruise Line.

California dental board cases are taking longer despite an increase in inspectors

The Dental Board of California aims to close disciplinary cases within a year and a half, but an investigation by U-T San Diego found that it actually takes the board twice as long. The delays allow for injuries and even deaths to occur.

It took the board 13 years to resolve a case involving a meth-using dentist. A review of dental board data found that it takes an average of 1,185 days to complete an investigation.

While the board has hired more investigators, delays occur when the office cannot find qualified dental experts to analyze the board's findings. 

America's gun-toting guards armed with poor training, little oversight

Armed security guards have become a ubiquitous presence in modern life, projecting an image of safety amid public fears of mass shootings and terrorism. But often, it’s the guards themselves who pose the threat.

Across the U.S., a haphazard system of lax laws, minimal oversight and almost no accountability puts guns in the hands of guards who endanger public safety, a yearlong investigation by The Center for Investigative Reporting and CNN has found.

Poorly rated nursing homes got HUD-guaranteed mortgages anyway

Hundreds of the country’s worst nursing homes have received mortgages backed by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity.

HUD requires nursing homes applying for construction and rehabilitation loans to provide quality reports. Still, an analysis of loan and ratings data found that the number and volume of one-star facilities receiving HUD insurance climbed every year from 2009 to 2012.

FDA approves cancer drugs without proof they're extending lives

Nearly three out of four cancer drugs introduced in the last decade were approved by the FDA without proof that they help patients survive longer.

Teaming with MedPage Today, which provides physicians a clinical perspective on breaking medical news, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyzed 54 cancer drugs put on the market in the last decade. They found that instead of using the gold standard – patients surviving longer – the FDA based approval on surrogate measures such as a tumor shrinking.

To read the full story, click here.

Danger lurks underground from aging gas pipes

About every other day over the past decade, a gas leak in the United States has destroyed property, hurt someone or killed someone, a USA TODAY Network investigation finds. The most destructive blasts have killed at least 135 people, injured 600 and caused $2 billion in damages since 2004.

A crack found in a cast-iron service main caused an apartment building explosion in Birmingham, Alabama last year. Alabama Gas Corp. built and operated that pipeline, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, one of the Gannett-affiliated publications involved in the project.

The Advertiser recently went to court over Alagasco documents it obtained ...

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Records explain why US Airways flight buzzed city mall

A US Airways pilot in 2012 flew a plane so low to the ground that it buzzed a mall, according to a report by The Daily Times in Salisbury, Maryland

Edmund C. Draper, the pilot-in-command, purposefully lowered the plane to fly about 500 feet over his home, which is located near a busy shopping mall.

The Federal Aviation Administration in 2013 revoked Draper’s airline transport pilot certificate, but the paper found that he was issued a new one in 2014. He also holds a flight instructor certificate. 

Disciplined doctors find work in the drug industry, running clinical trials

By matching U.S. Food and Drug Administration data on clinical researchers against records of state medical board disciplinary actions in the four most populous states, this report in Matter found dozens of reprimanded doctors who subsequently were hired by pharma to test experimental drugs in clinical trials. Some had made mistakes that left patients dead or maimed. Others were themselves addicted to narcotics.