A product liability lawsuit claims Gluco-Ease Plus, a supplement purported to help users maintain healthy blood sugar levels, nearly killed a 55-year-old diabetic man. Isaac Shaw’s lawsuit alleges that the main ingredient in the supplement, Uva Ursi leaf, also called bearberry, caused him to suffer cholestatic hepatitis and drug-induced liver disease.
The Gluco-Ease Plus lawsuit was filed in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia, PA. According to Shaw’s lawsuit, Uva Ursi is listed on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Poisonous Plant Database, and it contains hydroquinone, a toxic chemical known to cause serious liver damage.
“Contrary to the known dangers of long term exposure to Uva Ursi and Hydroquinone, the Gluco-Ease Plus bottle instructions suggest consumption of three to six 525 mg. pills per day, for an unlimited period of time, to ‘maintain healthy blood sugar levels and join lot’s of people who are living healthy lives,'” the complaint states.
Shaw claims he began using Gluco-Ease Plus in March 2009. After taking a total of 70 pills, he began to suffer itching all over his body that grew so severe he sought medical attention in a hospital emergency room. A liver biopsy showed he had contracted drug-induced hepatitis from the herbal supplement, and he now suffers from cholestatic hepatitis, liver failure, shortened life expectancy, debilitating bouts of itchiness, right-side abdominal pain and discomfort, extreme mental anguish, anxiety, loss of sleep and depression.
The lawsuit accuses Penn Herb Co., the maker Gluco-Ease Plus, of marketing the supplement without adequate warnings. It also points out that in 2005, Penn Herb was cited by the FDA violating federal law by suggesting that Gluco-Ease Plus and other products were intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease.
Liver damage is one of the most commonly-reported drug side effects. In fact, drug-induced liver injury may account for as many as 10 percent of hepatitis cases in adults overall, 40 percent of hepatitis cases in adults over fifty years old, and 25 percent of cases of fulminant liver failure. More than 1,000 medications currently on the market are known to be potentially toxic to the liver, and liver toxicity is one of the most common reasons behind drug recalls.