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Local Couple Files New Lawsuit Over Cholesterol Drug Baycol

But lawyer for defendants says new case against drug firms doesn't make sense

May 3, 2003 | Caller-Times Attorneys are targeting pharmaceutical companies and sales representatives who the lawyers say marketed Baycol, a cholesterol drug that was recalled by its manufacturer.

The case comes less than two months after a local jury ruled in favor of the drug's manufacturer, Bayer Corp., during the nation's first trial involving the drug.

Some of the defendants listed in the new case were included in a first draft of the case against Bayer, and a few new names appear on the current list of defendants.

But an attorney for the defendants said the lawsuit doesn't make sense.

Attorneys for the Watts Law Firm sought more than $560 million in actual and punitive damages for 82-year-old Hollis Haltom and wife, Eleanor. Haltom's doctor provided him with 0.8 mg samples of the drug in May 2001. Less than a month into taking the medication, Haltom was paralyzed, suffering from the degenerative muscle disorder rhabdomyolysis.

Defendants in the new lawsuit are Bayer AG, known as the company's German branch, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, and the company it merged with in 2000, SmithKline Beecham Corp. Two pharmaceutical sales representatives are also named in the lawsuit. In it, the plaintiffs claim the drug came without proper warnings regarding its side effects and that the defendants failed to perform adequate testing on the product.

Chris Pinedo, an attorney for the Watts Law Firm, said testimony from the earlier trial showed GlaxoSmithKline provided the samples given to Haltom.

But Tony Canales, attorney for GlaxoSmithKline, said Pinedo's claim is ridiculous.

Canales cited an order signed Friday by County Court-At-Law No. 4 Judge James Klager that showed the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissing their case against SmithKlineBeecham and GlaxoSmithKline.

Pinedo said the Jan. 31 dismissal was "without prejudice," allowing them to file a new lawsuit against the defendants.

Haltom's attorneys accused the company of putting profits before patients when developing and marketing 0.8 mg Baycol, the highest dosage available on the market.

But in March, a jury rejected that notion and said there were no marketing or design defects in the 0.8 mg of Baycol that resulted in Haltom's injury.

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