Trasylol Litigation: April 2008 Update

Bayer pulled Trasylol, a drug used to limit bleeding in heart surgery, off the market in January 2008 after it was discovered that it may be linked to over 20,000 deaths over the past few years. We asked Frank Woodson, an Alabama attorney whose firm represents Trasylol patients, to give us an update on where the Trasylol litigation currently stands and what’s being discovered.

April 2008 update

Woodson says that several cases have been filed along with a petition that has been filed with the judicial panel for multi-district litigation in Washington D.C. He told us, “That petition is set to be heard in the next few weeks. At that point, the judicial panel will select a federal judge somewhere in the country to handle and coordinate all of the Trasylol litigation that is occurring in the federal court system. That is generally the jumpstart for one of these big pharmaceutical litigations.”

What’s being discovered?

It’s being discovered that Bayer may have known a lot more than it was letting on when the controversy first began. According to Woodson:

  • What Bayer knew. As many people have seen on the 60 Minutes special, Trasylol is actually a very old drug. It was approved by the FDA in 1993 and was used to prevent bleeding during open heart surgeries. From what they’ve discovered, Bayer knew as early as when they went on the market, or even before that, that the drug may increase the risk of kidney failure and sudden death.

    Bayer was selling Baycol several years ago; Bayer knew that the drug was going to cause rhabdomyolysis, a severe muscle problem, far more than the other statin medications even before it was approved. It was removed from the market because it was too dangerous.
  • Symptoms may have been masked. It’s surprising that the problems with Trasylol have taken so long to be discovered. Some reports say thousands of people died from Trasylol after heart surgeries, yet their loved ones – and the doctors involved – probably didn’t recognize it because the patients are higher risk to begin with.

    I’m assuming that’s the reason why it has not been discovered up until recently by the public. Now that some additional studies have come out in the last year and a half or so, the adverse events with Trasylol were seen, Bayer was confronted about this and the drug had to be withdrawn.

    That’s not surprising to me. It’s something that we have seen over and over again, whether it be Phen-Fen, Vioxx, Bextra or Baycol; you name it and we have seen many examples of this over the years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is just not the watchdog that everybody believes them to be.
  • Putting profits over patients. We have seen several examples of this over the years with drug companies. The company knows far more than anyone else in the world about the drug, including the FDA. Inevitably, the pharmaceutical company will detect a “signal”, and that signal tells them that there’s at least a possibility that the drug could be associated with a severe adverse event; in this case, kidney failure and/or sudden death.

    I believe we will discover that Bayer saw this signal many, many years ago and did nothing about it because nobody was picking up on it, including the FDA. So, why didn’t they do something about it? Because they were making money off of it. If they put a warning in their label that the drug is associated with an increased risk of kidney failure or death, then there are other drugs available to do the same thing and they’re going to lose sales. So, many examples exist of companies placing profits over patient safety.

If you or a loved one may have been injured or died due to the use of Trasylol, contact an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of law to discuss your situation. The consultation is free and without obligation. To contact a qualified attorney, please click here.

Back To Library Index