Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Say what?

"We're dealing with human lives here, and if they could do anything to make their products safer, they ought to." - Henry Chanin.

"... the pharmaceutical companies were responsible for providing 50 ml vials of propofol to ambulatory centers that would require no more than 10ml to 20 ml bottles because profit dictated the decision to do so. The larger size vials encouraged multi-dosing becoming weapons of mass infection. The result is nearly immeasurable.” - Henry Chanin's lawyer.

"... They gave no warning to doctors, gave no warning to nurses, and that’s why we have all these outbreaks in eight different countries, 11 different institutions around the world..." - The lawyer for Henry Chanin's wife. Also "... What this jury has done may be the most important thing any jury anywhere has ever done for drug safety in the history of the United States ...”

By golly, apparently those greedy pharmaceutical companies continue to put out defective product... And this courageous couple has struck a decisive blow for the safety of all patients everywhere! Well, perhaps not. The facts of the case:
  • It was discovered that the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center in Las Vegas (Dr. Deepak Desai et. al) had infected a very large number of their patients with Hepatitis C. Apparently, in a racket to make as much money as possible, this 'doctor' had his employees a) Reuse single-use vials of the anesthetic propofol on multiple patients, b) Reuse syringes and other single-use instruments, c) Rush procedures to speed up throughput, and d) Neglect to ensure that his employees were trained on how to clean endoscopes between cases.
  • One of Dr. Desai's victims, Henry Chanin, decided to sue... the drug companies that manufacture the propofol used.
  • Why? Well, his lawyer argued that they "... endangered public safety by producing vials that were much larger than necessary for typical endoscopic procedures, which enticed nurse anesthetists to reuse the vials among patients instead of throwing away leftover sedative..." And the complaint against the companies "... alleged product liability, negligence and disregard of known and accepted medical procedures, resulting in Henry Chanin contracting hepatitis C from exposure to contaminated vials of the anesthetic propofol. Baxter was the distributor and Teva the manufacturer of the drug..."
  • The jury found in Chanin's favor and awarded him and his wife $5.1 million in compensatory damages....
  • Never mind that the drug is dispensed in single-dose vials and that Teva pointed out that "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 ..."
  • Good grief! But wait, as they say in the infomercials, there's more...
  • The jury went on to award Chanin $500 million in punitive damages ($356 million for Teva, and $144 million for Baxter)!
  • Apparently the jury was so generous because they felt badly for Chanin. The school headmaster now suffers from lingering joint pain, and "... he and his wife had stopped having sexual relations, for fear that he would spread the disease to her..." Oh, well, in that case...
What a crock! Meet Henry Chanin, poster boy for tort reform. Best of all they trotted out that perennial chestnut: it wasn't about the money, but about getting two giant companies to change, and "... if we didn’t come forward and we didn’t pursue some kind of action, we weren’t doing all we could to make sure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anybody else”

Drugmakers Lose Hepatitis C Trial
Patient says hepatitis lawsuit just start of public safety battle
Jury Orders Baxter, Teva to Pay $500 Million In Largest Award in Nevada’s History

First addendum:
Ran across this insta-poll on a local Las Vegas news outlet. Apparently seven percent of the people who took this poll feel that the award was "not enough"!

Second addendum:
Others injured in the same way by the same clinic are watching, Hep C Victims Watched Court Case Closely Another victim is "... glad Henry Chanin has justice, but wonders if he'll still be around to ever have justice of his own..." And "... with years of court appeals ahead, the 70-year-old may never see any large sums of money from the propfol drug companies he believes are partly to blame for the constant pain he faces..." Very unfortunate for this gentleman, who deserves justice. Unfortunately he's looking in the wrong place! This decision is "justice"? Teva and Baxter are "partly to blame"? What absolute nonsense.

Third addendum:
Apparently a number of the jurors wanted a higher award. According to reports "... "It was difficult to assess an amount to make someone wake up and make a change," (jury forewoman) Williams said. She said some jurors feared an award of $1 billion might be appealed.

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