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Drug Firms Found Liable In Hepatitis Case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada jury found drug companies liable and awarded a total of $20.1 million in compensatory damages to five plaintiffs in a lawsuit stemming from a Las Vegas hepatitis C outbreak in 2008.

The Clark County District Court jury that heard seven weeks of testimony deliberated a full day Thursday before the verdict. It also found Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc., Baxter Healthcare Corp. and McKesson Corp. liable for punitive damages.

The jury begins work Friday on that question. Plaintiffs’ lawyers say they’ll seek $600 million. Teva immediately promised an appeal.

Plaintiffs’ accused the drug companies of distributing dangerously large vials of the powerful anesthetic propofol to clinics where doctors and anesthesiologists are suspected of engaging in the dangerous practice of reusing vials — despite warnings that could spread blood-borne diseases.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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