Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman Drug Injury Media Excerpts
Plaintiffs Build Case Against Diabetes Drug
In the wake of a new study linking the Type II diabetes drug Avandia to a 43 percent increase in the risk of a heart attack, the plaintiffs' bar is building its failure-to-warn case against GlaxoSmithKline, the drug's manufacturer. . . .
Meanwhile, personal injury lawyers have been fielding a steady stream of calls since the study came out. . . .
Baum Hedlund in Los Angeles is currently evaluating cases. . . .
Plaintiffs' lawyers said the unprecedented race to hold a congressional hearing was a political move to push pending drug safety legislation to the front burner. . . .
After the Nissen study came out, Glaxo published interim results of its own study, indicating no increased risk of heart attack.
But a Baum Hedlund attorney said testimony at the hearing made it clear that GlaxoSmithKline was on notice of a potential elevated risk of heart attack from the drug as early as 1999.
Diabetes expert Dr. John Buse testified that when he raised a concern about an increased risk of heart attacks from Avandia in 1999, the drug maker subjected him to intimidation tactics and characterized him as a liar. . . .
FDA and Glaxo Share Blame for Avandia Disaster
According to a plaintiffs attorney at Baum Hedlund, a law firm that has been litigating drug related cases against Glaxo since 2001, "The relationship between FDA and the drug industry is disturbing. We've seen internal correspondence between GSK and the FDA that would cause anyone to question the objectivity and regulatory effectiveness of the FDA. Apparently the FDA has failed yet again to protect the public - to the benefit of pharmaceutical industry profits. This failure, and FDA's derogatory attitude towards Dr. Nissen's study, should sound an alarm to all healthcare providers, patients and legislators that the problem is systemic. Patient safety commands serious change in the agency and the industry."
Antidepressant Drugs: FDA, Manufacturers Agree to Strengthen Suicide Warnings for Antidepressants
"We are getting closer to warnings that match what the internal, unpublished data owned by the drug companies (and not entirely seen by FDA) show regarding a risk for antidepressant-induced suicidality and violence," the Baum Hedlund law firm said in a May 3 press release. "Unfortunately, this new warning, rather than simply and accurately informing the public that this side effect can occur in some people - no matter their age, instead gives the false perception that some age groups are entirely safe while others are not."
Judge Rules $63.8 Million Settlement in Paxil Case Fair
A Madison County judge Thursday deemed a $63.8 million settlement fair and reasonable for a class-action suit against the makers of Paxil and Paxil CR. . . .
The lawsuit claimed GlaxoSmithKline promoted the drugs -- usually used to treat depression and anxiety -- for children and adolescents while withholding negative information about the drugs' safety and effectiveness. Members of the class include all U.S. residents who bought the drugs for their children. . . .
By eliminating the cap for undocumented claims and increasing the amount of money, attorney Michael Baum said more people will come forward to make claims.
"It simplified the process for a large portion of the class who would make claims," Baum said.
Lawyers Win More for Plaintiffs in Glaxo Settlement
A judge has amended the terms of a $63.8 million nationwide class action settlement reached in 2006 by drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, allocating more of the massive sum to consumers. . . .
In a statement released Thursday, Los Angeles law firm Baum Hedlund said the new settlement plugged a loophole that allocated just $15 each to their clients - plaintiffs who had no proof they bought Paxil for their children.
Under the amended settlement, the $300,000 cap on these claims will be lifted, affected plaintiffs will be eligible for $100 each. . . .
As part of the original settlement, which was unsealed on Oct. 27, 2006, only plaintiffs who had proof of their Paxil purchase could get full refunds by Glaxo.
“The most important objective in improving the settlement for all potential claimants was accomplished through the objections we filed on behalf of our client,” Baum Hedlund senior partner Michael Baum said in the statement. “Our litigation efforts substantially contributed to the original settlement proposal and the improved amendments to the final settlement.
California Supreme Court Removes Barrier to Tobacco Injury Lawsuits
SAN FRANCISCO-The California Supreme Court on Thursday removed a legal barrier that prevented sick smokers from suing tobacco companies for damages. . . .
Thursday's decision will allow tobacco-injury lawsuits to move forward in federal courts in California, and also could influence federal courts in other states with similar legal barriers, attorneys said.
It "allows people who are substantially harmed by tobacco smoking to get compensation for the injuries they suffered," said plaintiffs attorney Michael Baum.
Plaintiffs argued that the 2002 ruling prevented smokers from suing in federal courts because tobacco-related illnesses generally don't arise until years after a person starts smoking.
Tobacco Claims Will Start Smoking Again, Thanks to California Ruling
For smokers recently diagnosed with a tobacco-related disease, it's not too late to sue the tobacco industry. . . .
In the latest ruling, the court essentially found that the state's two-year statute of limitations begins when the smoker is diagnosed with a disease caused by the cigarettes.
'The California Supreme Court has resurrected stalled tobacco cases in the Ninth Circuit,' said Michael Baum, who represented one plaintiff in the trial court. . . .
But that position, according to Grisham's attorneys, wasn't logical.
'You can't say to somebody, 'Someday, I might develop heart disease,' 'Someday, I might develop cancer.' There's no cat scan or MRI you can point to,' Baum said. 'Those would be frivolous claims.'
U.S. Supports Glaxo, Asks Judge to Rethink Blocking of Paxil Ads
. . . "Within a few days, they started getting extraordinarily sick, throwing up every hour on the hour for two months," said a Los Angeles [Baum Hedlund] attorney for the plaintiffs. They also suffered "electric zaps," she said. "It's as if you were to be charged with electricity through your brain."
Secrets of the Drug Trials
. . .The secret emails you weren't supposed to see. The paper trail that reveals how results of drug trials were glossed over to cover up a link with suicide in teenagers. Now GlaxoSmithKline faces trial for fraud.
When you take your child to the doctor you assume the medicine they are prescribed is safe and will help them get better. If your teenager is depressed, you certainly don't expect the drug they're given to make them want to kill themselves. But we've uncovered the story of how one company tried to hide the fact that it's medicine did exactly that. Just watch this.
Reporter: Shelley Jofre:
It's not where you'd expect to unravel one of the biggest medical scandals of recent times, but that's exactly what this team of lawyers has managed to do. What they've found affects all of us here in the UK, anyone in fact who takes prescription medicine.
Lawyer, Baum Hedlund :
It is all about the profits. Even when they have negative studies that show that this drug is going to harm kids they still spin that study as: "remarkably effective and safe for children."
This apartment is crammed full of boxes containing a story that Britain's richest drug company has fought hard to suppress. There's an embarrassment of secrets here that GlaxoSmithKline really doesn't want you to see, and you're about to discover why.
So it's all stuff from the confidential GlaxoSmithKline archives?
Yeah, the internal documents, the emails back and forth, the decisions that they make from the bottom to the top.
These trade secrets are usually protected by law but through a series of legal challenges the lawyers have forced many of them into the open. Buried in all these boxes are details about secret clinical trials programme that GlaxoSmithKline began over a decade ago for its antidepressant Paroxetine, it's a drug that's better known in Britain by its brand name Seroxat. It was hailed in the 90s as a wonder drug when it was launched as a rival to Prozac to treat depression and anxiety. GSK later promoted it as a cure for everything from stress to shyness. By the new millennium 100 million Seroxat prescriptions have been written worldwide bringing in 2 billion dollars a year. With the adult market also all sewn up, the company then looked for new ways to make money out of Seroxat.
If they tested Seroxat for children they would get a six month extension on their patent which means enormous profits. It would become the antidepressant being used worldwide for children in depression.
The documents in these boxes reveal how hundreds of children with depression were recruited from around the world to take part in three large scale clinical trials of Seroxat. The biggest of these was in the US and came to be known as 'Study 329'. Its influence would reach right across the Atlantic to British doctors looking for ways to treat depressed children. . . .
Next to her daughter's suicide note lay a packet of Seroxat. She instinctively blamed the drug, but she couldn't have known what its maker knew. The company had tested the drug on depressed children six years previously. One group took the drug, the other a placebo - sugar pills. The results were unexpected: Seroxat proved no better than the placebo. In one study seven of the 93 children who took Seroxat had to be taken to hospital. Some had self-harmed like Sharise.
It should have been the time where they at least by then started warning physicians who prescribing this drug off label to stop prescribing it to children, because not only is it not effective, it's not safe.
There's no doubt the company knew it had a problem. The product director for Seroxat in the UK admitted as much in an internal memo to senior executives way back in 1998. It's one of dozens of emails and memos seen by Panorama.
Email dated: 14th October 1998
"The results of the studies were disappointing. The possibility of obtaining a safety statement from this data was considered but rejected."
In other words they knew they wouldn't get a children's licence. . . .
Baum Hedlund Lawyer:
They figured out ways that they could downplay the risks, blow up out of proportion the supposed benefits or the good sides of the study and really downplay the negative findings.
The next step was to use apparently independent academics to help, like Professor Martin Keller. Head of Psychiatry at a prestigious university his name is worth a lot to companies like GSK.
Baum Hedlund Lawyer:
They figured out well if we use opinion [leaders] in the field, academics that everybody looks up to and the leaders in the field to sell our product, doctors are going to be far more influenced than by just regular sales representatives. . . .
They didn't tell the regulators or the physicians or parents about these risks or the lack of efficacy, instead they went out and promoted this specific study as remarkably effective and safe for kids.
So what does that amount to in your view?
Baum Hedlund Lawyer:
. . .That's flawed. . . .
But the boxes in Malibu reveal that the company did find a clinically meaningful increase in 2004 when forced by the US medicines regulator to go back through its own trial results. Miraculously they discovered a further four children on Seroxat who had become suicidal during study 329.
They discovered that there was actually a six fold increase in events relating to suicide.
But how could all of this be missed originally? I mean these people were academics, they were supposed to be objective and they were supposed to be scrutinizing the data!
Baum Hedlund Lawyer:
It shows that they didn't.
Jurors Award Family of Aids Infected Hemophiliac $35.3 Million
New Orleans, Louisiana, March 15 -- Jurors awarded $35.3 million to [Baum Hedlund clients] for the death of their son, who was infected with the HIV virus and contracted AIDS for the treatment he used for his hemophilia condition.
The jurors came to this decision after deliberating for three days.
Plaintiffs put on evidence that showed that the medication [the victim] used was plasma-derived medication contaminated from the use of high risk donors with the HIV virus.
The jurors found that two of the medication manufacturers, Cutter Biological and Alpha Therapeutics were strictly liable for product liability, negligence and fraud.
The jurors further found that after [the victim] initially was infected with the AIDS virus (which was unknown to him at the time), the continued use of the Cutter and Alpha-contaminated-product further aggravated [his] condition, exacerbating and accelerating the development of AIDS.
The $35.3 million verdict, with prejudgment interest, comes to a total of approximately $56 million.
After the jurors entered their verdict, the judge ruled that the statute of limitations expired and therefore entered a judgment for zero dollars. Plaintiffs' counsel is confident that this decision by Judge Max Tobias will be overturned on appeal due to the finding of fraud.
The [family's] attorneys; Tom Mull, Jim Orr, Michael Baum and Robert Arceneaux have stated that this verdict by the jurors is a strong vindication of the claims of Hemophiliacs across the country who have suffered and died as a result of their HIV infected medication manufactured by the defendants.
The Furor over Antidepressants Noting a Higher Risk Among Young Adults, FDA Panel Urges Suicide Label Warning
Young adults are at heightened risk of becoming suicidal when they take antidepressants , and warnings on the drugs' labels should be altered to emphasize that potential, a federal advisory committee recommended Wednesday. . . .
On Wednesday, an FDA advisory committee acknowledged that another group of patients deserves special attention: young adults between the ages of 18 and 24, who also can experience heightened suicidal impulses while taking antidepressants. Although the risks are small, they should be featured in a prominent "black box" warning on drug labels, the committee recommended.
[Kim Witzcak’s Baum Hedlund] lawyer, is among several critics who faulted the FDA's analysis, charging that the agency had relied too heavily on clinical trial data supplied from drug companies that weren't independently verified. Other studies that have come to opposite conclusions weren't given sufficient weight, these critics said.
Federalism - Agencies Move to Override State Law as Part of Federal Rulemaking Process
In a new approach that critics call "silent tort reform," federal agencies under the Bush administration have mounted an aggressive effort in recent months to nullify state product liability laws. . . .
"There's no other process that puts the pieces together of what a company knew and when it knew it," said a [Baum Hedlund] plaintiffs' lawyer who is handling a major product liability suit against GlaxoSmithKline PLC over use of the antidepressant Paxil.
"The discovery process in the litigation revealed 'just mounds and mounds of documents' that FDA never saw, [Baum Hedlund] told BNA. The suit alleges that GlaxoSmithKline failed to warn that the drug has been associated with causing suicidal thoughts among users.
"Preemption would close off one of the few avenues by which we learn of safety and efficacy information that pharmaceutical companies do not publish and even hide from the FDA," said a partner with Baum Hedlund in Los Angeles.
Prozac Backlash- Trouble in Prozac Nation
. . . Some 3,000 similar suits against Glaxo have been filed across the country over the past few years, an attorney at Baum Hedlund, a Los Angeles law firm that has handled many SSRI-related suits.
At FDA, Change in Name Only; Legal Business; New counsel keeps industry-friendly policies put in place by his predecessor
. . . [Baum Hedlund], who represents plaintiffs in cases related to Zoloft, notes that Pfizer never asked the FDA if it could warn consumers about the suicide risk, adding that the FDA had information about the suicide risk associated with antidepressants like Zoloft since the early 1990s but did not analyze it.
The contention that the agency would have prevented Pfizer from issuing the warning is "pure speculation by the FDA's attorneys," says a partner with Baum Hedlund in Los Angeles. "But the sheer weight of the FDA intervening is very persuasive."
Donuts for Doctors - Buying the Medical Profession
. . . In early 2004, amid dramatic and emotional public hearings at the United States Food and Drug Administration, a Los Angeles attorney[from Baum Hedlund], testified about the concerns relating to SSRI use in children. She cited evidence of unpublished company trials, which failed to show any benefit for several of the new pills. She noted: 'The clinical researchers who did these trials on kids and the drug companies themselves, confirmed that there are multiple events of suicidality caused by the drug.'
Several months after this testimony, the attorney general of New York State launched a lawsuit against GSK, alleging that the company fraudulently withheld data about Paxil's safety. He noted that by 'concealing critically important scientific studies on Paxil, GSK impaired doctors' ability to make the appropriate prescribing decision for their patients and may have jeopardized their health and safety.'"
Family: Antidepressant Led to Man's Death
. . . Robert Brava-Partain, an attorney with the Los Angeles firm Baum Hedlund, said his firm has filed about a dozen Zoloft suicide cases and he knows of about a dozen other Zoloft cases filed by other firms. . . .
Most of the Zoloft cases are being litigated in federal court and are pending, Brava-Partain said. . . .
In antidepressant cases, the hope is drug companies will start warning customers and doctors of the risk of increased suicidal behavior, Brava-Partain said. . . .
"These drug companies are realizing, I hope, that they can't hide this information from doctors and the public,'' Brava-Partain said.
The FDA is studying the issue and in March 2004 required the manufacturers of such antidepressants to issue a "black box'' warning to pediatric patients, Brava-Partain said. The FDA is studying suicidal tendencies in adult patients who take such drugs and in June issued a public health advisory warning of the possibility of increased suicidal behavior, especially early in treatment.
Attorney-Client Privilege Applies Online, Ninth Circuit Holds
. . . “This is a huge decision for all attorneys, not just plaintiff attorneys,” said Robert Brava-Partain of Baum Hedlund, who argued the case for the firm. “It’s a two-way street. In fact it’s ironic that [GlaxoSmithKline] fought this so hard, since a ruling like this could easily be used against any law firm, for plaintiffs or defendants. It would have undermined all lawyers’ ability to do business.” . . .
Noting that the questionnaire asked for detailed personal and medical histories, Brava-Partain said, “Clients seeking representation talk about very personal things with a lawyer, whether or not they ultimately hire that lawyer. The policy behind this is, if you didn’t think that information was being treated confidentially, it would discourage you from going out to talk to a lawyer. This is just like an initial face-to-face, preliminary communication in a lawyer’s office.”
“This is a crucial ruling,” said Brava-Partain. “Internet use is ubiquitous. We are moving into a new age, and the court of appeals recognized that.”
FDA Urges Monitoring for Suicide in Adult Antidepressant Users
The Food and Drug Administration has issued a public health advisory urging that persons taking antidepressant medications be "closely watched" for worsening of depression and "increased suicidal thinking or behavior." . . .
[Baum Hedlund] has filed suit against pharmaceutical companies for families of antidepressant users who have committed suicide.
"While the FDA should have taken this action back in 1991 when first presented the evidence of a suicide risk, we appreciate that the FDA has issued this advisory now instead of waiting," [a Baum Hedlund attorney] said. "Now, if physicians and physicians' organizations pay attention to this information, lives will be saved."
Drug Manufacturer Loses Bid to get Personal Medical Data
SAN FRANCISCO - Affirming the importance of attorney-client privilege, a federal appeals court Thursday soundly rejected a drug maker's attempt to get hold of personal medical information solicited through an Internet questionnaire by a plaintiffs' law firm recruiting clients for a mass tort case. . . .
Robert Brava-Partain, who argued the case for Baum Hedlund, praised the 9th Circuit for recognizing "how deeply ingrained the attorney-client privilege is in our legal system." 'The ruling basically says ambiguities are resolved in favor of the client, not in favor of the party opposing the privilege,' Brava-Partain said."
FDA Strategy Would Pre-empt Tort Suits
. . . In some ways, tort litigants may be in a better position than the FDA to keep drug companies honest, since they sometimes see evidence that the agency doesn't. Los Angeles' Baum Hedlund, [which] represents thousands of one-time users of the anti-depressant Paxil in a suit against Paxil manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline PLC, said that court-ordered discovery allowed her to see raw data on safety and efficacy, while the FDA saw only the completed write-ups.
Also, [Baum Hedlund] saw the company's internal communications about how to approach the agency, which the FDA never saw. "If we could show you what we see, you'd see how much disdain the drug companies have for the FDA," [the Baum Hedlund attorney stated.] The discovery materials are subject to protective order.
"Failure To Warn" Suits Boosted by FDA Advisory on Antidepressants
The FDA has issued an advisory asking the manufacturers of certain antidepressant medications to add warning labels recommending that patients treated with these drugs be carefully monitored for sudden signed of becoming suicidal. . . .
. . . A Los Angeles plaintiffs' attorney [from Baum Hedlund, which] who also specializes in these cases, said, "This is a . . . hurdle we have finally gotten over after 12 years."
This warning will raise awareness of a possible risk and cause more potential plaintiffs to come forward, she said, because it "makes people who were not aware that suicide could be caused by the drug [realize] that they might have a lawsuit."
. . .Baum Hedlund, is handling about 50 individual suicide cases at various states, many of which involve Zoloft, as well as representing about [thousands of] clients in the multi-district litigation over Paxil.
Prozac Battle Comes Home; Lenoir Woman's Suicide Case to Be Tried in Charlotte
. . . "What we're trying to get them to do is warn the doctors and [then] the doctors can warn the patients or their families," the Los Angeles lawyer representing the . . . family. "To me, that's reasonable. We're not asking them to take the drugs off the market." . . .
Lawsuits such as the one filed by [the victim's] husband and children can be hard to prove. [Baum Hedlund] and other lawyers specializing in them say most lawyers don't have the expertise to take on such complicated claims. . . .
[Baum Hedlund] and other critics say pharmaceutical firms such as Lilly, which racked up about $2 billion in Prozac sales last year, market the drugs without inserting warnings about the possibility of manic, psychotic, homicidal or suicidal side effects.
The California firm [Baum Hedlund] is among the few specializing in suing Lilly and other companies that make the class of drugs which treat depression by increasing the brain's levels of serotonin, a substance thought to affect a person's moods. . . .
[Baum Hedlund] in August filed the first class action lawsuit against any of the makers of serotonin-boosting antidepressants, which include Paxil and Zoloft in addition to Prozac. . . .
Will British Ban Spur FDA to Act? Critics Remain Skeptical of the FDA's Announced Plans to Take a Serious Look at Possible Links Between Use of Antidepressants by Children and Violent or Suicidal Acts.
. . . An attorney with Baum and Hedlund, a Los Angeles law firm that represents alleged victims of SSRIs, tells Insight, "The only reason that the FDA is even looking at this issue is because they don't want to be seen as sitting back doing nothing. We are thrilled with what the U.K. has done and we believe that it only happened because they put together a panel that wasn't biased or had any pharmaceutical connections. But I think the FDA will try to whitewash the issue."
The Baum Hedlund attorney stated, "The FDA's planned methodology for the hearing is to go back and look at the number of suicide events that were recorded during the drug companies' clinical trials. These suicide events were recorded by the researchers at the time with the patients sitting in front of them. The researchers are treating them and seeing exactly how they are reacting. And it was during this evaluation that they recorded the suicide event as a suicide event and in some cases even noted that the suicide event was caused by the drug. Now what you have is the FDA bringing in an 'independent' panel to go back and look at those researchers' assessments, and they are going to determine whether the reported incident was really a suicide event. The only thing that can come from this panel's review of the data is that they get the same number or fewer incidents of suicide events which now will be based on the panel accepting that the researchers' evaluation was correct."
US Acts on Drug Suicide Warning
Prozac, Seroxat and other commonly used antidepressants of the same class must carry warnings that children and adults might become suicidal while taking them, the American drug regulator said yesterday, increasing the pressure on the UK to act.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stopped short of stating that the drugs can cause some people to want to kill themselves, but made it clear it was a possibility. . . .
The FDA says that patients on the drugs must be more closely monitored for suicidal thoughts. [said] a lawyer with Baum Hedlund in the US, which is pursuing legal claims against the companies. [Baum Hedlund] welcomed the FDA statement, but regretted that it had taken a decade of pressure to get the bold-print warnings manufacturers will now have to include on labeling.
"Through our litigation over the past 13 years, we've seen the internal documentation that shows the drug companies have known that their drugs can cause suicide and violence even before the drugs were approved for marketing."
"Moreover, both the FDA and drug companies have known that these drugs are only marginally effective in treating depression."
Prozac: Unsafe at Any Price
. . . On Thursday, Eli Lilly announced it was halting development of a new and improved version of Prozac, its top-selling drug. The patent for the new formulation -- which cost Lilly $90 million -- claimed it would reduce ``the usual adverse effects'' of the original Prozac, including ``nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, inner restlessness (akathisia), suicidal thoughts, self mutilation, manic behavior.''
Yet almost from the time it was introduced in 1988, Lilly has been maniacally denying claims that Prozac produces violent or suicidal reactions. . . .
The damning admissions in the enhanced Prozac's patent will be the center of a [Baum Hedlund] federal lawsuit scheduled to go to trial in Hawaii next summer. This will be the latest round in a legal battle initiated by the children of a man who, while on Prozac, fatally stabbed his wife and then himself. . . .
During the first trial, Lilly's lawyers and witnesses repeatedly claimed that violent or suicidal acts are not a side effect of Prozac.. . .
The latest suit charges that "a fraud was committed on the court'' when Lilly failed to disclose the potentially explosive data contained in the patent, which it had purchased three months before the first trial began. ``It is incredible,'' said one of the attorneys suing Lilly, "that on the one hand, Lilly vehemently argues to a federal judge and jury that Prozac does not cause suicide and/or violence ... while on the other, pays $90 million for a patent ... which clearly acknowledges Prozac's propensity to increase the risk of suicide and violent behavior.'' If there was no problem with Prozac, then why spend all that money to fix it?
Infected Hemophiliacs Could Pursue their Cases in the US Courts
. . . The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that Hong Kong hemophiliacs in the mid-1980s were forced to rely on HIV-contaminated blood-clotting medicine sold across the region by a US company - even while it marketed a newer, safer version elsewhere. . . .
Michael Baum, who practises in Los Angeles, said Cutter had faced a problem in unloading its old stocks of the non heat-treated concentrate. "There was an over production. The company had paid for the plasma and the stocks were in the warehouse and that was their problem. The company then tried to find a market," he said.
Mr. Baum, who has represented HIV-infected hemophiliacs in the US, said Cutter failed to act reasonably. "By October 1984, it had been proven that heat-treating, and in particular Cutter's heat-treating, killed HIV. Thus, at least by then, it was clearly known to be unsafe to continue using non-heat treated products," Mr. Baum said. "Instead of recommending to cease using non-heated product, Cutter and the other manufacturers did the opposite and did everything they could to find markets for their inventories of non-heated products. Hong Kong hemophiliacs were . . . misinformed." This misinformation could form the basis for pursuing lawsuits against the US manufacturers, Mr. Baum said.
2 Paths of Bayer Drug in 80's: Riskier One Steered Overseas
A division of the pharmaceutical company Bayer sold millions of dollars of blood-clotting medicine for hemophiliacs medicine that carried a high risk of transmitting AIDS to Asia and Latin America in the mid-1980's while selling a new, safer product in the West, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. . . .
In the United States, AIDS was passed on to thousands of hemophiliacs, many of whom died, in one of the worst drug-related medical disasters in history. While admitting no wrongdoing, Bayer and three other companies that made the concentrate have paid hemophiliacs about $600 million to settle more than 15 years of lawsuits accusing them of making a dangerous product. . . .
The new product, meanwhile, was selling briskly, leaving Cutter with a problem: "There is excess nonheated inventory," the company noted in minutes of a meeting on Nov. 15, 1984.
"They needed to get the return for what they invested," explained Michael Baum, a Los Angeles lawyer who has represented dozens of United States hemophiliacs in suits against blood-product companies. "They paid the doctors. They had processed the plasma, put it into vials, kept it in warehouses and all that expense had already been incurred."