Nevada Jury Awards $5.35 Million For Contamination From Propofol Vials

Nevada Jury Awards $5.35 Million For Contamination From Propofol Vials

LAS VEGAS — (Mealey’s) A Nevada state court jury on May 5 awarded $5.35 million in compensatory damages in a propofol vial/hepatitis infection case and said the plaintiffs are also due punitive damages (Henry Chanin, et al. v. Baxter Healthcare Corporation, et al., No. 08A571172, Nev. Dist., Clark Co.).

A jury in the Clark County District Court awarded plaintiff Henry Chanin $3.5 million in compensatory damages and his wife, Lorraine Chanin, $1.85 million in compensatory damages against defendants Baxter Healthcare Corp. and Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc.

The jury also said the defendants are liable for punitive damages.  That phase of the trial was to begin at 1 p.m. May 6.

After deliberating three days, the jury found that Baxter and Teva breached their duty to warn and breached an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.  However, the jury found that “jumbo” vials of the general anesthetic propofol were not unreasonably dangerous per se.

In 2006, Chanin underwent a colonoscopy at a Las Vegas endoscopy center.  An anesthetist used propofol from a 50-milliliter vial.  Within a month, Chanin was diagnosed with hepatitis C.

Chanin sued Baxter and Teva, alleging that by marketing vials of propofol that contained more of the intravenous anesthetic than is needed for the average colonoscopy, the defendants encouraged health care practitioners to use the same vial for multiple patients, which allowed for contamination by the hepatitis C virus from one patient to the next.  Chanin argued that only 10 milliliters of propofol is needed for the average colonoscopy but that the defendants stopped making the small single-use vials and instead sold 50-milliliter vials.

The defendants argued that health care practitioners wanted 50-milliliter vials.  They said the vials are clearly marked for single-patient use only and that if patients are infected, it is because health care practitioners reuse single-use vials against label warnings.

In separate statements, Baxter and Teva said that Chanin’s infection was due to product misuse and improper clinical procedures, facts the jury was not allowed to hear.  Both said they are confident the verdict will be overturned on appeal.

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the May 20 issue of Mealey’s Emerging Drugs & Devices.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.]

For more information, call editor Tom Moylan at 610-205-1120, or e-mail him at tom.moylan@lexisnexis.com.