C8 medical panel decides protocol

PARKERSBURG – Medical monitoring protocols have been established by the three-member C8 Medical Monitoring Panel.

The independent panel was part of the 2005 settlement of the local C8 class action lawsuit. The panel’s membership was announced last spring. Members are Dr. James Baker, a professor of medicine, pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine; Dr. Melissa McDiarmid, a professor of medicine, epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland and director of the school’s Occupational/Environmental Health Program; and Dr. Harold Sox, professor of Medicine Emeritus at Dartmouth Medical School and associate director for faculty at Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Also part of the lawsuit’s settlement, a three-member independent Science Panel of epidemiologists agreed to by both sides earlier concluded its work last fall, announcing it had found probable links found between C8 exposure and pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease and medically diagnosed high cholesterol.

The separate medical monitoring panel was to be named to develop medical monitoring protocols for the diseases the science panel found a probable link to, including diagnostic medical exams, tests and procedures.

The six affected water districts that were part of the C8 lawsuit are Belpre, Little Hocking, Pomeroy and Tuppers Plains in Ohio and Lubeck Public Service District and Mason County PSD in West Virginia. The original class action was filed in 2001. The settlement was filed in 2005. The science panel was to determine whether there was a probable link between C8 exposure and human disease. Nearly 70,000 people in the six affected water districts who were part of the lawsuit were tested and had medical histories taken in addition to several other studies including DuPont employees.

The medical monitoring panels’ announced protocols were released in a 52-page report filed last week in Wood County Circuit Court.

The report addresses and defines initial screening and diagnostic testing protocols. It explains the potential need for future screening and related testing, the details of which are deferred for inclusion in a future medical panel report.

The panel also recommended the administrator of the Medical Monitoring Program be charged to develop a mechanism to gather relevant data on implementation and findings of the Medical Monitoring Protocol, which will be used to evaluate whether to change the Medical Monitoring Program in the future.

The report also notes the panel’s plan to create educational materials that will help inform individuals affected of the benefits and harms of screening.

Attorney Robert Bilott, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, thanked the panel “for its significant efforts to provide this important new medical information and testing program to the community so quickly after the final list of diseases linked to PFOA exposure was released.”

Also as part of the settlement agreement in the lawsuit, DuPont agreed to pay up to $235 million for implementation of medical monitoring protocols determined appropriate by the C8 Medical Panel.

“Medical Monitoring is defined in the settlement as ‘diagnostic medical examinations, tests or procedures utilized to detect human disease.’ We have received the Medical Panel Report and are reviewing its recommendations. DuPont understands the Medical Panel has additional work to complete under the settlement. DuPont continues to fulfill its obligation under the settlement and looks forward to receiving the additional information from the Medical Panel,” said Dan Turner, DuPont Public Engagement & Media Relations.

“Consistent with our core values of health, safety and environmental stewardship, DuPont has taken and continues to take actions to minimize PFOA exposure. For decades, DuPont has had industrial hygiene measures in place to minimize worker exposures to PFOA. Data shows that these measures are effective. DuPont has reduced total PFOA emissions by more than 98 percent in our global manufacturing operations since 2000. We also have developed and commercialized new technologies to make fluoropolymers without using PFOA, and to make surface protection products that cannot break down to PFOA in the environment. Regulatory authorities around the world have affirmed that these products are safe for their intended uses,” Turner said. “Our focus remains on the safety of our employees and customers, and to responsible environmental and product stewardship.”

With release of the medical monitoring protocols, plaintiffs’ attorney Harry Deitzler said the court-appointed director of Medical Monitoring will work with local Brookmar Inc. to develop the process and plan for actual implementation of the recommended medical testing program. When the plan for actual implementation is in place, impacted residents will receive additional notice of the details and procedures for how they can avail themselves of medical screening and testing benefits, attorneys said.

The Director of Medical Monitoring is Michael Rozen of Feinberg and Rozen, the law firm that administered funds from the World Trade Center tragedy and the Boston Marathon bombing. Brookmar Inc. was instrumental in implementing the earlier C8 Health Project involving C8 blood testing and gathering medical information from the affected water district residents.

The C8 Medical Panel’s report is available for review on the Hill Peterson Carper Bee and Deitzler website at www.hpcbd.com/C8%20Medical%20Monitoring%20Protocols.html, follow the link and click on “C-8 Medical Panel Report” in the first sentence of the second paragraph on the “Medical Monitoring Protocols” page.

C8, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, is a man-made chemical used in manufacturing products including nonstick cookware, protective finishes on carpets and water-resistant clothing.