Via America’s Lawyer: It looks like Nestlé won’t stop drinking more than its fill, as officials across the country continue to grant the company freshwater extraction permits. Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins discuss more. Plus, the FDA is again resorting to damage control, now warning the public about Xeljanz, a rheumatoid arthritis drug approved in 2012 that’s been linked to heart disease and cancer. Attorney Sara Papantonio joins Mike Papantonio to explain the dangerous results from recent safety trials, while the drug still hasn’t been pulled from pharmacies.

Click here to learn more about Xeljanz lawsuits.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Nestle isn’t satisfied with just sucking all the water out of California. Now they’re moving into other environmentally sensitive parts of the country. Joining me now to talk about this is Farron Cousins. Farron I have to tell you this, I get more emails that say, and I believe this and I stick by it, you honestly are one of the best progressive talkers in this business.

Farron Cousins:                  Well thank you.

Mike Papantonio:             I, and I, I have no reason to say that other than the fact, I get covered up with emails, Pap, this guy’s great. He’s great. You are. You just do such a great analysis and thank you for that. So, so let’s hit this. We’ve talked about Nestle in the past. They’re like a moving mob, aren’t they? I mean, they’re locust.

Farron Cousins:                  They, they, they, they really are. And as they continue to suck all the water out of California, now they’re coming down to these environmentally sensitive areas of the state of Florida. And, you know, you’ve got this hyper-partisan Suwanee river management board that gave them the green light to start pumping, I think 400 million gallons a year from Ginnie Springs, right around Suwanee. Even though you had a public in this entire area that said, no, we do not want Nestle to move in this area. We’ve seen what they’ve done up north. We sees what they’ve done out west. We’ve seen how Nestle operates. Don’t let them come in. And this nine member panel said, well, we hear your concerns.

Mike Papantonio:             But we’re going to ignore them.

Farron Cousins:                  But we’re going with the money.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. And so what this, what this panel of buffoons is the best way for me to say it, they’re absolutely buffoons. I’d like to, matter of fact, I have a list. Maybe we’ll put it up on the screen. But this panel of buffoons, this is the deal. Nestle, you can come in here and take 400 million gallons of water from our spring, from our aquifer, every year. And you know what, all you have to pay is $115, $115 is what they’re paying to get this.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. I, I mean, that’s a little cheaper than the permit they got out in California to take billions of gallons. But what Nestle is going to do here, the same thing they’re doing in California, you pump water out of the source, which they’re going to go to the source of Ginnie Springs. And they’re going to argue that, look, look in the immediate area around Ginnie Springs, you still have just as much water. And that may be true because that’s what they argue in California. But it’s what happens downstream. You’re not starving the immediate area, you’re starving the flow of the body of water, the flow of the aquifers, and you end up starving the people downstream that depend on this.

Mike Papantonio:             So, okay, California, let’s, let’s change. California has been in the worst drought that they’ve seen in decades. They, they can’t do anything about it. The state is burning up. It is in embers. And so Nestle is still sucking hundreds of millions of gallons out of their aquifer and nobody seems willing to push back. What is it about Nestle that, that, where they simply dominate the environmental policies of these states? What’s going on?

Farron Cousins:                  Well, I think what Nestle has working for them is being a multinational corporation with billions of dollars at your exposure, or disposal, excuse me, they have one of the most sophisticated PR machines that I think I’ve ever seen. I recently did this big expose on Nestle and I dig into it. I go to Nestle’s website, they have for every kind of environmental damage they’ve done, they have their own separate website talking about why, oh no, we’re actually helping the local environment in California. They have a page dedicated to the destruction they’re doing in Florida. They have it for other areas of the United States and Canada as well, fully coordinated PR campaign for everything they do.

Mike Papantonio:             I got an early look at the article that you wrote for the trial lawyer magazine. As a matter of fact, it’s the cover story. It’s excellent. One thing you point out is it’s not just about this. Let, let’s talk about the Nestle story. You have a list. It talks about the de, deforestation. I mean, there, it’s South America, man, if they need it, the trees don’t matter. Environment doesn’t matter. We’re going to take it. The, the, the idea of melamine that they found in, in children’s milk in China, very dangerous. But they were busted on that greenwashing. They figured out best greenwashing in the business. These people are excellent. This really got me, the relationship to Robert Mugabe called the butcher. You want to add anything to that? This list was incredible.

Farron Cousins:                  You know, there’s so many more things I couldn’t even fit into this piece. But they, they’ve basically been having indentured servants is what they’ve been described as over in Southeast Asia that go out there and they do all the fishing. They work for pennies a day and if you don’t meet your quota, you know, bad things happen to you. You die, they dump your body overboard. Nobody ever sees you again. And that’s all for Nestle’s Purina brand. This is for your cat food and dog food. The fishermen are dying just to give, you know, fluffy a couple extra more treats.

Mike Papantonio:             This, this. This is that panel of geniuses. I just have to throw a few names out. Virginia Johns, Charles Keith, Richard Schwab, Virginia Sanchez, Harry Smith, Larry Sessions, William Lloyd, Larry Thompson. These are the people, these are the politicians that said, yeah, we know about your terrible history. It’s all been presented to us. It’s been, we’ve been told right off the bat, what this is going to do to our aquifer, what it’s going to, how it’s going to absolutely affect our aquifer. But you know what? We’re going to let you do it anyway.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. It, it’s absolutely disgusting with these individuals did not just allowing the corporate locusts to come in, but completely ignoring the constituents in the area.

Mike Papantonio:             The FDA is again resorting to damage control, now warning the public about another cancer causing drug, that’s been on the market, oh, by the way, since 2012. Well, we’re seeing dangerous results from safety trials, yet the drug still hasn’t been pulled from the pharmacies. It’s still on the market. It’s classic FDA. Joining me to talk about this is Sara Papantonio, Sara you’re handling this case. Tell us about Xeljanz. Lay the 10,000 foot out for us.

Sara Papantonio:              Right. Xeljanz is a drug that suppresses the immune system. What it’s used to, is it’s used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. And what we found is that the drug has been on the market since 2012. For years, we’ve known that it has been related to severe cardiac arrest, major heart conditions, pulmonary embolisms, blood clots. That’s no question. In fact, the FDA just recently issued a black box warning on those conditions. But just a month ago, the FDA came out and said, hey, not only does it cause major cardiac events, it also causes cancer. So it’s just one thing after another with this drug that we’re seeing. It’s just a very dangerous drug that’s on the market right now.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Well, I’ve been following, I’ve been to trial with Pfizer more than most lawyers, all back when you were in grade school, you know, and, and the truth is, it’s always the same MO. And what you see is their influence with the FDA that’s become totally dysfunctional. It’s just a revolving door. Work with the FDA, they go to Mary with the FDA. You know, Mary you’re only making $150,000 start with us and we’ll pay you $700,000 or something ridiculous. It’s the influence and that’s, that’s, clearly I can, when we, when we take the depositions in this case, I promise you, that’s what we’re going to find is some influence there. But they finally got around to the black box. What’s important about the black box? The FDA said, you got to have a black box. They didn’t do it willingly, Pfizer didn’t do it willingly.

Sara Papantonio:              It’s really important that we do talk about this black box warning because oftentimes consumers don’t understand what that little black box on the drug means. What it means without question is this drug is dangerous. If a consumer, if you’re, if you’re going to buy a drug and you see a black box warning on it, it means that is the last step the FDA will take until they rip that drug off the market. So turn the other way, do not take that drug if it has a black box warning on it, because it is seconds, months, you know, very quickly probably going to be taken off the market.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Okay. So you have the FDA, they’ve known all this bad stuff. I mean, they knew about the cardiac events. They knew about DVTs and blood clots, my God, the list is endless. They knew about congestive heart failure related to it. But they say, oh, all you gotta do is put a black box on there. First of all, this isn’t even a product that’s needed. This is like a, this is like a me too product. There are plenty of products that do the same thing here. Right?

Sara Papantonio:              Absolutely. There’s tons of products on the market that can be used to treat many different of arthritis and so my advice to consumers is to avoid this one, because it has been linked to so many problems. You know, we, we’ve been talking about the, the heart complications for years, but now on top of all that it’s cancer. Understand that this is a drug that suppresses the immune system. It opens the flood gates for people to develop cancer left and right and so it is just truly a dangerous drug that needs to be taken off the market.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. It’s a class drug. Let’s talk about the class, it’s called, I think it’s JAK, JAK. And what it does is it suppresses the immune system, as you say, and the other, the other things related, related to it are, look, you know what else they’re doing with this drug that we see Pfizer and other drug companies do, this drug wasn’t developed for treatment of ulcerative colitis. But they said, hey, we can make extra money by not only treating arthritis. We can also go and we can sell it for something totally, it’s called off-label, we can sell it for off-label ulcerative colitis. And so all of a sudden, this is a cash cow. These people are going to fight as long as they can to keep it on the market. You agree?

Sara Papantonio:              Absolutely. They’re going to expand every and all opportunities to get this drug on the market, to get it to patients. And that’s like, we’ve seen with this ulcerative colitis, they are expanding the use of this drug to try to make more money. Now, this is, this drug has already made, it makes about a million dollars each year. Since it’s been on the market, it’s made about $7 million, but that’s not enough for Pfizer. No, they have to expand it. They have to make more money. They have to hurt more people in the long run.

Mike Papantonio:             But then there’s Zantac, this is another Pfizer product. You know, the deal on that, pulled off the market. Testosterone products pulled off the market because they were so dangerous. Pradaxa and Xarelto. I mean, at what point does the FDA, we’re dealing with a serial offender here. What do you think?

Sara Papantonio:              Absolutely. I mean, Pfizer is the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world and look at the track record they have. It’s one drug after another being pulled off the market because it’s hurting people, it’s killing people. It is an incredibly dangerous drug. At some point, we have to take a step back and say, what, what good is this company doing? You know, what is this, what are safety precautions?

Mike Papantonio:             Well, we got a, we got a vaccine.

Sara Papantonio:              We got the vaccine.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. Sara Papantonio, thank you for joining me. Okay.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.