April 15, 2009, Bloomberg
Bayer Settles Suits Over Imaging Dye Tied to Disease
Bayer AG, Germany's largest drugmaker, has started settling lawsuits over its Magnevist contrast agent used in diagnostic imaging tests.
The company began negotiations in about 40 cases linking the product to a disease that hardens organs, Peter Burg, an attorney with Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh Jardine PC in Englewood, Colorado, said today. "We can confirm that we have reached agreements in principle with several of the plaintiffs in the U.S. to settle without admission of liability," Marcy Funk, a Bayer spokeswoman, said in a phone interview.
Bayer, General Electric Co. and Tyco International Ltd. are among companies facing more than 300 lawsuits over complaints that contrast agents containing the chemical gadolinium may increase the risk of death in patients with weak kidneys. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered in May 2007 that all five gadolinium-based agents in the U.S. carry a black-box warning, the agency's strictest caution.
Burg, head of a steering committee of lawyers for the product's users, said negotiations would include state court cases and lawsuits consolidated in federal court in Cleveland. "At this point the settlements are for the most part tentative and we're not allowed to disclose dollar figures," Burg said in a phone interview.
The products, such as Bayer's Magnevist and GE's Omniscan, are used to highlight internal organs in magnetic resonance imaging scans. Patients with weak kidneys who receive the gadolinium-based agents are at risk of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, a potentially fatal disease that thickens the skin and organs, the FDA said. The cause of the disease is unknown.
Bayer, based in Leverkusen, Germany, is settling cases in which a biopsy confirmed a diagnosis and its solution was the only one used, said attorney Barry Hill, who settled one of his lawsuits involving the company.
Bayer rose 70 cents, or 1.9 percent, to 37.85 euros. It has declined 26 percent in the past 12 months. The consolidated case is In re Gadolinium-based Contrast Agents Products Liability Litigation, 08-50000, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland).
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