Teva Parenteral Medicine and Baxter Healthcare Services were ordered to pay more than $500 million after a jury found the companies liable in the first civil trial stemming from Southern Nevada's hepatitis C outbreak,The Las Vegas Review Journal reports.
The jury decided the drugmakers, which sold the propofol sedative, failed to label vials with appropriate warnings and should not have provided large vials of the anesthetic to endoscopy centers. Henry Chanin, 62, and his wife filed suit after he received a colonoscopy in 2006 at a clinic during which he was infected with hepatitis C. The center is one of two Las Vegas clinics linked to an outbreak. The jury awarded $3.25 million to Henry Chanin and $1.85 million to Lorraine Chanin in compensatory damages and $500 million in punitive damages.
During the three-week trial, Henry Chanin testified he suffers from joint pain and fatigue and has stopped having sex with his wife because of worries about spreading the infection. Chanin's lawyers argued the drugmakers 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.
Local health officials said the outbreak was caused by nurse anesthetists reusing vials among patients after the vials had become contaminated by the nurses reusing syringes on the same patient. Chanin's case was one of nine linked to the two Las Vegas endoscopy clinics by health officials, who in 2008 notified 50,000 patients about possible exposure to hepatitis, HIV and other blood-borne diseases because of unsafe injection practices at clinics run by one particular physician, Dipak Desai.