The Times, JANUARY 24 2002
USERS OF BAYCOL IN UK TO SUE BAYER
British users of Baycol, the anti-cholesterol drug which was withdrawn after being linked to more than one hundred deaths, are to sue Bayer, the German manufacturer, for millions of pounds in compensation.
A South Wales solicitor is seeking legal aid to file a class action lawsuit against Bayer on behalf of 22 Britons who complained of adverse sideeffects ranging from liver and kidney problems to heart failure.
UK Investigators have so far uncovered four suspicious deaths linked to Baycol, known as Lipobay outside the US. No link has yet been conclusively proven between the drug and the deaths.
The case represents the first attempt to bring a multi-party action on behalf of British patients. So far Bayer has denied knowledge of any British fatalities in connection with the drug. The class action is being brought by John Watkins, a solicitor with Hugh James Ford Simey, a law firm that specialises in litigation against pharmaceutical groups.
Mr Watkins is currently investigating 492 reports to the UK's Medicines Control Agency of adverse side-effects allegedly caused by Baycol.
Of these reports, four resulted in a fatal outcome.
Bayer admitted last week that the number of deaths linked to Baycol had doubled to more than 100. It is alleged that the drug gives rise to a serious muscle-wasting condition known as rhabdomyolysis that in some cases can lead to life-threatening kidney failure. Writs against Bayer, which analysts suggest could lead to compensation payouts of $10 billion (£6.9 billion), have already been lodged by German and American users of the prescription drug, which was withdrawn by Bayer in August.
News of a British case against Bayer comes as the drug company lists its shares on the New York Stock Exchange today, having postponed an earlier attempt to list because of the controversy surrounding Baycol.
BY ANGELA JAMESON, Times Business Section
THURSDAY JANUARY 24 2002