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Bayer Exec Kept List of Fatalities Associated With Baycol

He also said drug was tested, safe; company sales rep told to focus on effectiveness in lowering cholesterol

Mar 11, 2003 | Caller-Times

A Bayer executive kept what a plaintiff's attorney described as a "death list" to track fatalities associated with the cholesterol-lowering drug Baycol.

Despite that, Roger Celesk, a senior clinical drug safety officer with Bayer, said the drug was safe and that the drug had been tested extensively.

Celesk's testimony was part of a videotaped deposition shown to jurors Monday. This week begins the fourth week in the civil trial against the drug company. At issue is whether the company is legally responsible for causing 82-year-old Hollis Haltom's muscles to deteriorate after he took the drug to lower his cholesterol. Bayer voluntarily removed Baycol from the market in August 2001.

At one point during questioning, Celesk was asked if Baycol kills people.

"Patients can die as a result of rhabdomyolysis," he said, referring to the muscular disorder Haltom had, which has been identified as a potential side effect.

Later, a Bayer pharmaceutical sales representative told jurors that the company wanted him to focus on Baycol's effectiveness at lowering cholesterol when talking to physicians about the drug.

Pete Curran, who provided samples of the drug to Haltom's physician and is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, said he didn't know that the drug was removed from the market until the company announced it to the public.

Throughout much of his testimony, Curran told Haltom's attorneys that he was only doing what his employers asked. He said marketing Baycol at 0.8 mg, the highest dosage available, was the right thing to do.

"I don't see how it can be the wrong thing," he said. "The (Food and Drug Administration) approved the drug."

Curran's testimony continues today in the fifth floor courtroom of the Nueces County Courthouse. Attorneys for both sides said closing arguments could begin by the end of the week.

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