Back in 2008, I wrote about the sad story of Trasylol. (I’ll wait if you want to read that post as background.) Fast forward a little over two years, and many of the lawsuits filed over Trasylol are starting to settle. That’s good news for the patients injured by Trasylol:
Drugmaker Bayer AG has agreed to settle about 200 of 2,000 cases in which plaintiffs alleged that the use of Trasylol to control bleeding during their heart surgeries caused injuries such as kidney failure and fatal heart problems.
One Pennsylvania lawyer, James R. Ronca of Anapol Schwartz Weiss Cohan Feldman & Smalley, said he has settled 39 cases for a total of $19.9 million, which would work out to an average settlement of $510,000.
As far as I know, no Trasylol cases have gone to trial yet. My guess is that Bayer is going to try to settle the cases in order to make sure that no cases ever do go to trial. Pharmaceutical companies have a natural aversion to trial not just because that they could lose, but because even if they win the “cat gets let out of the bag.” You see, the FDA doesn’t have subpoena power. That means that the FDA never gets to see internal documents from a pharmaceutical company if the company doesn’t want the FDA to see them. Lawyers, on the other hand, do have subpoena power, and there has yet to be a pharmaceutical trial where at least one document wasn’t revealed that the company would prefer to keep secret.