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Baycol Court Battle Set To Begin

Jackson woman's trial only second in nation over drug

Mar 17, 2003 | Jackson Clarion Ledger

Mississippi's first trial on the cholesterol drug Baycol is scheduled to start today in Hinds County Court.

It will be only the second trial in the nation over the Bayer Corp. drug pulled from the market in 2001 after being linked to 52 deaths worldwide, including 31 in the United States.

Virgie Hardy, 70, of Jackson, says she suffered muscle soreness after taking the drug for two years. She could not be reached for comment.

The drug has been linked to a muscle weakening disease known as rhabdomyolysis.

Pittsburgh-based Bayer has acknowledged the link to rhabdomyolysis but said it acted responsibly by withdrawing the drug after the Food and Drug Administration linked it to the deaths.

The Mississippi case comes after a Texas jury began deliberating Friday in the nation's first Baycol trial. Jurors were scheduled to resume deliberations today.

Hollis Haltom, 82, is seeking about $560 million in the Texas case.

Hardy's case is limited to $70,000, the maximum allowed in county court. Asked Friday why the case was filed in county court, Hardy's attorney, Roy Wilkins of Jackson, said he had several reasons but wouldn't divulge them.

Jury selection is set for today before Judge William Barnett. Videotaped or live testimony should also take place by the afternoon.

The case is expected to last two weeks. Neither Wilkins nor Robert Johnson III of Natchez, who is representing Bayer in the case, would lay out their strategy Friday.

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