Generics-maker Teva ($TEVA), its partner Baxter ($BAX) and distributor McKesson ($MCK) have been ordered to pay $20 million to three Las Vegas colonoscopy patients who contracted hepatitis C following the procedure. It's the second such verdict that Las Vegas has handed to Teva following a 2007 hepatitis C outbreak that traced back to colonoscopies done at one health center there. Teva faces 300 similar lawsuits, according to Bloomberg.
The jury recessed last week after ordering the payment, but before assessing punitive damages. Plaintiffs are asking for $600 million, reports Fox.
Nevada health officials blamed the reuse of jumbo-sized propofol vials in procedures conducted at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada for infecting the patients. Their conclusion contributed to a Teva/Baxter fine of more than $500 million in the first case, in June 2010.
In the current trial, prosecutor Robert Eglet argued that Teva knew the large vials encouraged re-use. The single-use jumbo vial is intended for long-term sedation, not for short-duration procedures such as colonoscopies. The re-use is believed to be the cause of contamination that led to the cases of hepatitis.
Teva in May 2010 ceased to manufacture propofol, citing the manufacturing complexity and low profitability of the drug.
Teva says it will appeal.