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Teva to pay $250 million to end hepatitis C cases

Plaintiffs say they became infected when doctors reused large vials of Propofol

One pharmaceutical company recently learned that it shouldn’t exactly embrace the Earth-friendly mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

Last week Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. agreed to pay more than $250 million to settle more than 80 lawsuits in which colonoscopy patients from Las Vegas claim the company’s anesthetic Propofol caused them to develop the liver disease hepatitis C. The plaintiffs claimed the Israel-based drug company intentionally sold the drug in oversize vials that doctors used for multiple patients, thus increasing the risk of spreading the incurable blood-borne disease.

Nevada health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blamed a 2008 hepatitis C outbreak on the reuse of Propofol vials. Two years later, a state grand jury indicted a local doctor who ran the endoscopy clinic linked to many of the hepatitis cases.

According to Bloomberg, the $250 million deal resolves most of the remaining Propofol cases on the docket in state court in Las Vegas, as well as several multimillion-dollar verdicts against Teva, including a May 2010 case in which a jury awarded $500 million to a Las Vegas school principal who claims he developed hepatitis C after receiving tainted Propofol during a colonoscopy.

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