Cases Filed Against Baycol
Baycol, a drug meant for lowering cholesterol was launched in 1997. However in a short span many patients who took the dug complained of rhabdomyolysis- which is a muscle degenerating disease. After a lot of speculation FDA on August 8, 2001 asked the manufacturer for a worldwide recall of the drug.
Though the drug had been on in the market for only four years, it created a lot of havoc in such a short time span. Bayer is still fighting 11,000 lawsuits filed against Baycol. Due to this recall Bayer also had to see a lot of ups and downs in its shares and financial status. Though after the denial of class action lawsuits, due to the diverse nature of the cases,by Judge Michael Davis, Baycol’s shares rose up again, but the manufacturer is still struggling with the litigations filed.
The first case reported against the medicine was in way back in March 2002. Four people filed cases to claim for their sufferings caused due to the drug. While three were filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, the fourth was filed in the U.S District Court of Oregaon. In the U.S. on February 21, 2003, people saw a case of its own kind where the plaintiff claimed that he suffered from rhabdomyolysis, in spite of taking baycol for less than a month. The case also claimed that the officials of the manufacturer were aware of the side effects that the drug can cause, however kept in under wraps to promote the financial status of the company and hence win over its competitors. Since then there has been no dearth of the litigations being filed against the medicine. From 5,700 cases filed in November 2002, the number rose to 7,400 in January 2003 i.e. 1700 cases in less than 3 months. Portland and Oregon together only amounted to $15 million filed against Baycol, at one point of time.
Bayer claimed to have settled 450 out of the 7,800 Baycol cases filed against them. The amount to settle these 450 out of court settlements had ranges from $200,000 to $1.2 million. $1.6 million was the maximum settlement cost predicted at that point in time, that Bayer could have paid. A lawyer also made a statement that Bayer would have to face compensations worth $50 billion. However Bayor rubbished the news, stating that the Baycol lawsuit predictions were being overestimated. As per the manufacturer’s analysts, the damage costs could range between $5 million to $10 million provided its negligence is proved. Later, through internal mails and dispositions of the manufacturer it was highlighted that the senior officials were aware of the side effects of the drug, but did not disclose the same to the people using it for its own benefit.
Another case filed in Texas, asking for a compensation of $100 million, gained a lot of public attention when allegations of tampering the jury were made. Just before the jury selection had started, Bayer had sent a lot of fliers to city residents asking them to maintain an unbiased approach towards the company and influence people’s outlook. Since the trial judges found the letter to be “outlandish” and the company stated that it was a mistake, the trial judges asked the county district attorney to look into the matter and resolve the same.
As on 18th September 2003, 100 deaths, $477 million paid against 1,342 out of court settlements in the U.S and 11,000 pending lawsuits for which the manufacturer has denied legal liability were reported. The legal strategy that the company has adopted is to take up Baycol lawsuits individually and compensate a “fair amount” to people who have genuinely suffered from the serious side effects of the drug.