An El Paso jury awarded $400,000 to a man who blamed a chemical formerly used in Alka-Seltzer Plus for a stroke he suffered in 1997.
The verdict for Miguel Valverde was delivered in El Paso County Court-at-Law No. 5 on Wednesday against Bayer Corp., the company that makes the cold remedy.
The jury decided that Bayer was not negligent or malicious but said that the product had a “design defect” and that a “safer alternative design” was available that would have prevented or significantly reduced the risk of injury.
The lawsuit claimed Bayer participated in a conspiracy to conceal the dangers of the drug, but the jury rejected that argument.
Valverde fully recovered from the stroke.
“Bayer’s actions indicated that they valued profits over the safety of their customers,” said, Valverde’s lawyer. “That is unacceptable corporate conduct, and we are all pleased that a jury has finally held them accountable.”
A call left late Friday at Bayer’s U.S. headquarters in Pittsburgh seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned.
The award included $300,000 for pain and anguish, $70,000 for medical care and the rest for disfigurement, physical impairment and loss of earning capacity.
Valverde claimed a chemical called phenylpropanolamine, known as PPA, in the Alka-Seltzer Plus caused his stroke.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has asked companies to voluntarily discontinue marketing drugs or pharmaceutical products containing PPA, which is a nasal decongestant and appetite suppressant.