Hepatitis C Trial Focuses on Drug Maker and Supplier

LAS VEGAS -- The first civil lawsuit in the hepatitis C scandal is set to go to trial in a couple of weeks. The plaintiff is a local man who contracted the disease. Now, he's going after the pharmaceutical companies that supplied Propofol to the endoscopy clinics.

The plaintiff has already reached a confidential settlement with the clinic, the doctor and nurse in this case. Now, he's going after the drug manufacturer and supplier.

It's been two years since Las Vegas residents first heard of possible hepatitis C and HIV exposure at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. Now, the first civil lawsuit is finally set for trial.

Hundreds of patients are seeking damages from the clinics, doctors and nurses who are accused of using bad injection practices. But this first lawsuit is going after drug manufacturer Teva and pharmaceutical supplier Baxter.

"They were the first step in the process to allow this epidemic to happen here. What they did was supplied these jumbo sized vials of Propofol to these endoscopy centers who were only performing these short five to 18 minute procedures," said Robert Eglet, attorney.

Eglet, who represents the plaintiff, says this is a product defect case. Eglet says the companies knowingly made or provided large vials of Propofol to the endoscopy clinics when smaller vials would suffice. He says it encouraged multi-dose practices.

"When a manufacturer sells a product that is defective or unreasonably dangerous and they put it on the market. In this case, the jumbo case vials were dangerous for where they were being supplied, then they are strictly liable," he said.

8 News Now contacted both Baxter and Teva for a response. Manufacturer Teva says they have no comment. Baxter says the product itself is safe and is clearly labeled for single use only. They go on to say the drug was misused. While each side stands behind their beliefs, the ultimate decision will be made in the courtroom.

About 300 potential jurors have already filled out a questionnaire. The trial is slated to start on April 12th. It's expected to last 4 to 5 weeks.


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