Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bristol Myers Offers $80M To 15 Hep C Trial Patients

This is an interesting claim that is being settled.  Interesting due to the size of the reparations  being contemplated in payments  to the patients  by Bristol Meyers.

Essentially, Bristol Meyers abruptly halted development of its hepatitis C pill and took a $1.8 B charge last august, after one patient died during testing and several others were hospitalized. In this case, the patients were in a clinical trial which means that they had to sign papers saying there is no guarantee the drug would work nor how safe it might be to take it. 

Each year the WSJ said that 2.5 million patients each year participate in about 4,0000 studies of experimental drugs.  In this case, Bristol said the hearts or the kidneys of trial subjects were damaged though the company hasn't identified the cause. 

The company received requests for medical costs and damages totaling more than $500M from the injured patients.

Bristol was testing the drug to see if it could be a part of a new regimen of pills that would address the treatment of hepatitis C.  Infections with a virus is a leading cause of liver transplants and often are  fatal.  According to the WSJ, the drug was the crown jewel of  the $2.5B acquisition last year by Bristol of Inhibitex which originally developed the pill.

So here is my observation.

(1) 15 patients are looking to receive $80 M when they took part in a trial that they acknowledged had an unknown safety and efficacy record.  Unfortuntately, one of the patients died.
(2) It took them from August last year to Feb of this year to  come to the settlement table with two lawyers
(3) the drug was pulled from the market pretty quickly during the trial " in the best interest of the patients."

Contrast that to our situation:

(1) We were given a hip that had passed all of the regulatory guidelines, albeit the 501K program was not a good one.  Nevertheless, the metal hip was delivered into the market with the blessing of the FDA.
(2) At least 10,000 patients have been harmed in one way or another with most of the harm likely undiscovered  yet.  (No one seems to have studied the systemic effects enough to make any  observations?)
(3) It will be two years in August of this year that Depuy withdrew that hip from the market.
(4) I bet there are 100 lawyers involved in these cases
(5) The only amount paid out to the patients thus far  has been $200K in a settlement that never went to court.
(6) likely the lawyers took at least 30% of that and perhaps more.
(7) There appears to be no settlement in sight.  By that I mean, these so called Bellweather trials look like they will  go on  and on and on.

What am I missing here? 

Maybe we should all call the attorneys who represented the 15 Bristol Meyers Patients to see if they can get these claims all addressed. ( I have not signed on with an attorney yet because if they are not dealing with getting studies funded as a part of the global settlement, whats the point?  I know the statute of Limitations has run out for many of you.  In NY, we have two years which is up this August or so I have been told.)

I suppose the thing that bothers me most is the lack of concentration by the lawyers on the long term systemic issues and the lack of interest in getting monies allocated to studies  testing for these systemic issues in the settlements.  I think the easy way out is the pain and suffering claims.  This just makes no sense to me.  None.

PS.  the lawyers who addressed this  Bristol case are Robert Hillard (Texas) and Stephen Sheller (Philadelphia.)

I wonder if I am the only patient out there who thinks this settlement  process has gone off the runway into the cornfield?  I also wonder why Depuy hasn't approached any of the patients directly as they have in Australia?

Article Below from WSJ

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. ( BMY ) has agreed to pay $80 million to 15 patients killed or hurt during company-sponsored testing of an experimental drug for hepatitis C.

Now the patients and families must sign onto the tentative settlement and submit to binding arbitration to determine how much money each will receive, according to a letter, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, that was sent to one of the drug trial subjects outlining the terms of the deal.

The letter, which was sent to a trial subject in Texas by the two lead plaintiffs' lawyers, described the $80 million figure as better than the lawyers expected.

"We are especially pleased," wrote the lawyers, Robert Hilliard and Stephen Sheller, who noted that they expected a deal of $40 million to $50 million. Signing off on the agreement "avoids protracted and lengthy litigation and also the very real likelihood Bristol-Myers would have spent years appealing any large jury verdict."

Messrs. Hilliard and Sheller declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for Bristol said the sides "have an agreement in principle to settle the matters that were in mediation. The terms of the settlement are confidential."

The settlement would resolve the legal cloud that has hung over Bristol since it abruptly halted development of its hepatitis C pill and took a $1.8 billion charge last August, after one patient died during testing and several others were hospitalized. The company has said the hearts or kidneys of trial subjects were damaged, and it had halted the trial and shelved the drug in the interest of patient safety.

xxx

Go Figure

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