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Drug Firms Told To Pay $162M In Hepatitis C Case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada jury is ordering pharmaceutical companies to pay $162.5 million in punitive damages in a lawsuit stemming from a Las Vegas hepatitis C outbreak in 2008.

The damages awarded Monday in Clark County District Court are on top of the $20.1 million in compensatory damages awarded to five plaintiffs Thursday after a jury found Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc., Baxter Healthcare Corp. and McKesson Corp. liable after a seven-week trial.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers had been seeking $600 million in punitive damages.

At least one of the drug companies is planning an immediate 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 reusing vials — despite warnings that the practice could spread blood-borne diseases.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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