The pharmaceutical company Teva has set aside $285 million to settle lawsuits related to their anesthetic Propofol and an outbreak of Hepatitis C in Nevada. As reported by Bloomberg, litigants alleged that the company purposefully sold the drug in vials large enough to be reused and improperly labeled the containers, leading doctors to use drugs from the same vial on multiple patients. This practice leaves patients vulnerable to infection and led to the spread of a deadly virus to colonoscopy patients in Nevada, the litigants claimed. Hepatitis C is a viral liver infection and can be deadly if left untreated. More than 80 lawsuits have been brought against Teva, which hopes to settle with the majority of them.
We are reminded that modern pharmaceutical medicine is not guaranteed to be safe. The drugs we put in our bodies are not perfect and are, as anything, always vulnerable to human error as in this case. An understandable lack of foresight led to the distribution of too-large vials, which led to reuse, which led to a transmittal of disease. Though companies usually work to pull imperfect drugs from the public, as evidenced by the seemingly-frequent recall of children’s Tylenol, some things will always slip through the cracks. The best practice when dealing with chemicals and your body is to find a trustworthy doctor, take your time, and, of course, conduct your own research.