Bayer, the German pharmaceutical and chemical group, said on Wednesday the number of suits it was facing over Baycol, the cholesterol-lowering agent it was forced to withdraw from the market in 2001, had risen to 7,400 from an earlier 5,700 in November.
That number is far above earlier estimates. Bayer said it had settled 400 suits out of court.
Investors are worried that Bayer could face an unforeseeably high financial burden if the claimants win the lawsuits.
Bayer said it expects the first case to be heard in the spring.
Bayer has repeatedly said that it sees no reason to make special provision for the lawsuits.
It argues its insurance will pay for potential claims.
The withdrawal of Baycol, sold as Lipobay in the US, has left the German conglomerate vulnerable and in urgent need of a pharmaceuticals partner to boost its drugs pipeline.
In 2001 alone, the withdrawal of Baycol is estimated to have lowered the group’s operating profit by about â‚¬800m ($845m). Since then, Bayer’s share price has halved.