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Larger the Package, Larger the Liability?

May 6, 2010 – 2:08 pm

A jury has found Teva Parenteral Medicine and Baxter Healthcare Services partially liable in a lawsuit filed by Henry and Lorraine Chanin, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. We shared the case yesterday in our daily newsletter, and our sister publication shared the jury’s decision today.

The case claimed that Henry Chanin’s hepatitis C infection was the result of too-large propofol vials that “enticed” nurses to use the vials for more than one patient, the journal reported.

While it is unclear to me how the large vials were marked in terms of dosing instructions, the Las Vegas Review-Journal‘s story quotes a Teva spokesperson’s reference to “product misuse.”

Patients have been exposed to blood-borne diseases through product sharing before. Last year FDA issued an alert reminding healthcare providers to not use insulin pens and insulin cartridges for more than one patient after reports that such pens may have been shared among patients at hospitals in 2007 to 2009. According to FDA, “Some of the potentially exposed patients have reportedly tested positive for hepatitis C; however it is not known if the hepatitis infection occurred through insulin pen sharing, or if those who tested positive had previously undiagnosed hepatitis C.”

While the jury accepted the Chanins’ claims, the doctors and nurses reportedly settled their cases a while ago, so it would be unfair to say that the drug companies were found entirely liable. And yet I wonder: Could the Chanin case and other potential instances of infection drive pharmaceutical manufacturers to switch drugs currently packaged in large or multiple-dose vials and other containers to smaller, unit-dose formats?

Daphne Allen

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