The legal team for Teva Pharmaceuticals returned to court this week, battling the company’s second lawsuit over its anesthetic product, propofol. Three Las Vegas patients are alleging that they were diagnosed with hepatitis C after receiving propofol by way of tainted vials during routine colonoscopies. The lawsuit claims that Teva, along with its distributors (Baxter International and McKesson Corp.), were aware that the drug’s packaging could promote the spread of blood-borne diseases. Conversely, the companies claim that healthcare providers are to blame, not the drug’s packaging.
Last year, the first case against Teva and Baxter resulted in a verdict of approximately $500 million in favor of the plaintiffs. Teva now faces upwards of 300 lawsuits regarding the apparent outbreak of hepatitis C, an incurable liver disease. While Teva agreed to settle almost one-third of the hepatitis-based lawsuits, the company still faces “emotional distress” claims from patients who did not develop the disease. The pharmaceutical company announced it has set aside reserve funds in order to cover the cost of future settlements.