German drug maker Bayer has settled the first lawsuits over a cholesterol-lowering drug withdrawn after it was linked to more than 50 patient deaths worldwide, a spokesman said Wednesday.
In filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it had settled “a small number” of individual cases brought over Baycol, marketed outside the United States as Lipobay, and said it might settle more.
The SEC filing dates from June and is posted on Bayer’s Web site.
Spokesman Michael Diehl declined to say how much Bayer had paid, or give other details. He said he had no information about further settlements.
The drug was associated with a rare toxic muscle-wasting syndrome, rhabdomyolysis. Bayer said it had settled the cases without admitting responsibility. It said about 2,000 lawsuits have been filed against the company worldwide seeking damages because of Baycol, most of them in the United States.
“We may, on a case-by-case basis, settle additional cases for reasonable amounts when, in our judgement, settlement is economically feasible given the risks and costs inherent in litigation,” the company said.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the United States have sought to pursue damages under class-action suits that represent people as a group, but none of the cases have gone to trial yet.
Bayer’s product-liability insurance is likely to cover the extent of the legal damages, Diehl said. The company has set aside no provisions for any further liability, Diehl said.
Bayer has repeatedly said the lawsuits against it are groundless. It withdrew the drug in August, 2001.