Litigation is mounting against General Electric Co. over Omniscan, an allegedly toxic injectable contrast agent used in MRI. Omniscan, or gadodiamide, is widely popular injectable used in patients about to undergo MRIs or arteriorgraphy in order to make it easier for physicians to see lesions with abnormal blood flow. According to a number of lawsuits recently filed, Omniscan contains a highly toxic metal called gadolinium. Although the kidneys usually help clear it from the body, gadolinium has a prolonged half-life in patients with chronic kidney problems (people who are at obviously greater risk for using the drug) that causes nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. According to a lawsuit recently filed in Arkansas, G.E. Healthcare, Inc., allegedly knew of the drug’s risks in the 1990s when they produced it because nephrogenic fibrosis appeared in lab animals’ skin. The condition results in woody skin texture, severe pain, muscular weakness, joint problems, inability to use one’s limbs, and eventually fibrosis of the lungs, heart, liver, and even death. According to the lawsuit, G.E. marketed and sold the drug despite many adverse case reports, studies, and other clinical data (including a series of FDA public health alerts) describing the link between Omniscan and nephrogenic systemic fibrosis.

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