Mother of boy with hepatitis C sues Bayer and four competitors

The mother of a 12-year-old Dallas boy infected with hepatitis C has filed suit seeking $143 million in damages from five pharmaceutical companies. The Dallas woman alleges in a complaint that the defendants knew they were providing risky coagulants to her son and other hemophiliacs more than a decade before their infections. The suit states that the defendants improperly collected plasma from groups at high risk for hepatitis C contamination, including prison inmates, drug users and gay men. "They do that less today than they did when this kid was born," said Peter D. Hoffman, a New Jersey attorney representing the Dallas woman and her son. "But this is absolutely ridiculous." Since last year, Mr. Hoffman has filed seven similar suits in other states. All remain pending.

About 2 percent of the nation's population is infected with hepatitis C, which is incurable and can destroy the liver. The virus often has been transmitted through transfusions of tainted blood or coagulants. Representatives for Bayer Corp.'s biologics division in Raleigh, N.C. would not discuss the allegations. Spokesmen for other defendants could not be reached for comment or said they lacked authorization to discuss the case. They included Centeon Inc. of King of Prussia, Pa., and Baxter Healthcare Corp. of Deerfield, Ill

US Commerce Department Imposes $200,000 Penalty for Unlicensed Exports

The Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement announced a $200,000 civil penalty on Bayer Corporation to settle allegations that the company's Diagnostics Division exported U.S.-origin glucose and other reagents to several destinations. The Department alleged that on 57 occasions between October 1994 and January 1997, Bayer Corporation exported glucose and other reagents from the United States to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and Taiwan, without obtaining the required validated export licenses. The U.S. government controls glucose and other reagents because of concerns that they may be used for chemical or biological weapons. The Department of Commerce, through its Bureau of Export Administration, administers and enforces export controls for reasons of national security, foreign policy, nonproliferation and short supply.

Bayer Settles Charges of US Federal Trade Commission

The Bayer Corporation will launch a $1 million consumer education campaign to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it made unsubstantiated claims in a series of aspirin ads. The Bayer ads claimed that a regular aspirin regimen is appropriate for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes in the general adult population. The FTC alleged that since some adults are less likely to benefit from a daily aspirin regime, and some may suffer adverse health effects from taking aspirin on a daily basis, the ad claims were unsubstantiated. In addition to the consumer education campaign, the settlement requires that any Bayer advertising that makes claims about the benefits of regular aspirin use for prevention of heart attacks or strokes contain a disclosure that states, "Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen."
"This is a win-win settlement that will greatly benefit consumers," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Consumers deserve to have accurate information in advertising, especially on health issues. The consumer education material developed to settle the FTC's complaint will help alert consumers to the fact that, while some can benefit from an aspirin regimen, others may not, and all consumers should consult a doctor first." In its complaint, the FTC alleges that Bayer's radio, television and Internet ads claim that regular use of Bayer aspirin is appropriate therapy for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes in the general adult population. The FTC alleges that regular aspirin use has not been shown to be appropriate for prevention of heart attacks and strokes in the general adult population.

Lyondell to Sell Polymer Units To Bayer

Lyondell Chemical Co. agreed to sell part of its polymer-chemicals business to Bayer AG for about $2.5 billion. Bayer is Europe's second-largest chemical maker. The acquired facilities, with about 1,000 employees, have a total annual production capacity of about 700,000 metric tons. Polyols are used in the manufacture of plastics, petrochemicals and synthentic fibers. The companies also said they agreed to form a venture to construct PO 11, a propylene oxide/styrene monomer plant in Europe. Propylene oxide is widely used component of consumer goods ranging from car seats to paints.