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Teva Plans Appeal of Hepatitis Verdict: Jury Awarded Man $356 Million in Lawsuit

From Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV) (May 9, 2010)

May 9--Drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries issued a statement saying it will appeal a $356 million Clark County District Court verdict awarded to Henry Chanin, who says he contracted hepatitis C when one of Teva's drug vials was used on more than one patient.

On Friday, a jury ordered Teva Parenteral Medicine and Baxter Healthcare Corp. to pay a combined $500 million in punitive damages to Chanin, 62, and his wife, Lorraine, in the first civil case stemming from a hepatitis C outbreak related to its drug propofol two years ago. Earlier in the week, the jury had awarded the Chanins $5.1 million in compensatory damages.

Teva and Baxter attorneys did not comment outside the courtroom Friday.

Teva later issued a statement through its corporate head¬quarters in Jerusalem:

"Teva is reviewing the full judgment and continues to believe that the evidence shows the company acted responsibly. The label for its propofol product clearly states that it is for single patient use only and that aseptic procedures should be used at all times.

"Further, the company believes that the jury should have been allowed to hear all of the evidence in this case. Teva believes that the evidence clearly showed that if the plaintiff contracted hepatitis as alleged, it was because a properly labeled product was blatantly misused at the clinic in question.

"Teva believes that there are numerous grounds for appeal, and plans to contest the verdict vigorously."

Teva provided the propofol used by two endoscopy clinics run by Dr. Dipak Desai, which were at the heart of the hepatitis C outbreak. At least nine patients were infected with the disease. The Southern Nevada Health District advised about 50,000 patients who received endoscopy procedures at the clinics to be tested because of possible exposure to hepatitis, HIV and other blood-borne diseases because of unsafe injection practices.

The Chanins' lawyers argued that the drug packaging did not include appropriate warnings against reusing vials between patients and that the 50-milliliter vials of propofol should not have been sold to endoscopy centers because they tempted nurses to reuse the vials instead of throwing away leftover sedative.

Local health officials blamed the outbreak on nurse anesthetists reusing propofol vials between patients after they had become contaminated by syringes that were reused on patients with hepatitis C.

The doctor and nurses who performed Henry Chanin's colonoscopy were originally named in the lawsuit, but they settled their medical mal¬practice claims a few weeks before the trial.

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Posted: May 2010