Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Weapons of Mass Infection"

That's how plaintiff attorney Robert Eglet describes the 50 cc bottles of propofol used at an endoscopy center in Las Vegas the led to the hepatitis C infection of Henry Chanin.  This led a Vegas jury to award $500 million to the Chanins.  The lawyer successfully convinced the jury that Teva and Baxter, the manufacturers of the propofol, were at fault for selling these large vials of propofol to an endoscopy center that only required a few cc's for each procedure.  Thus the poor doctors and nurses who worked there had no choice but to use each bottle on multiple patients, despite the clear warning on the label that each bottle is for single use only.

The Chanins are playing the victimized heroes.  Says Henry Chanin at a news conference, "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."  The jury was itself far from impartial.  According to jury forewoman Celeste Williams, she wanted to award more than $500 million.  In fact some jurors wanted to give $1 billion. 

The doctors and nurses of the center settled before the trial.  The owner of the endoscopy center Dipak Desai has filed for bankruptcy. Smart thing.  Their liability coverage was only $3 million.  Obviously not enough for these plaintiffs.  The drug companies refused a settlement of $1.7 million from the plaintiffs, rightfully thinking that any jury in their right minds would know that there was nothing wrong with the drugs, just how it was implemented by the end user.  They forgot that this is America.  A smart lawyer will assemble an ill informed jury, one which is preferably from the lower socioeconomic scale, to play on their sympathies.  When these two drug companies decide that the liability of producing propofol no longer justifies its manufacture, then we will no longer have propofol in this country.  It is simple as that.

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