Baxter Faces Suit on Dialysis Deaths - Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia) - November 15, 2001

Baxter Faces Suit on Dialysis Deaths By: Darrell Giles (in Los Angeles)
Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia)
November 15, 2001

LAWYERS in America are trying to determine how many Australians died or were injured after using a faulty kidney dialysis machine.

Kenneth Moll, of Chicago firm Moll & Associates, said he was investigating the deaths of two Australian dialysis patients -- one from Sydney, the other from Brisbane -- which might be linked.

Today, he filed a negligence lawsuit against Baxter International, a leading US medical products maker, which has offices in NSW.

Victims could end up sharing about $300 million.

The action claims that more than 50 people have died around the world after using its dialysis machines.

The lawsuit against the Deerfield, Illinois-based company seeks damages on behalf of patients who died or were injured by the machines.

Mr Moll said his investigations revealed that the machines have led to at least 56 deaths.

'We strongly believe there will be many more cases from Australia.'

He said Baxter should immediately pass on details of deaths or injuries from Australia and whether the machines there had been recalled and returned to its Illinois headquarters.

He also urged family members to contact his firm so a class action lawsuit could be lodged in the US.

Baxter spokeswoman Lisa Scheff said the lawsuit had been expected.

The Food and Drug Administration said last week that more than 50 deaths in seven countries this year were being investigated in connection with the kidney dialysis filters, which had now been recalled.

Earlier this month, Baxter said a chemical residue in the filters appeared to have played a role in many of the reported deaths.

It said it was setting aside $200 million to $300 million for litigation and related expenses.

Named as co-defendants were Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M), the maker of the processing fluid that Baxter said mistakenly remained in the filters made at a Baxter plant in Sweden, and Bayer Healthcare, a division of Baxter.

FDA spokeswoman Sharon Snider said up to 54 deaths were being probed.

She said some were not caused by the filters, but the FDA agreed with Baxter's acknowledgment that it apparently caused many of them.

Last week, 3M said the fluid left in the filters was typically used in industrial and commercial applications and that the company wasn't aware Baxter used the product for leak testing until last month.

Baxter voluntarily recalled the machines in mid-October after reports of deaths associated with its product in kidney dialysis patients in Spain, Croatia, Italy, Germany, Taiwan, Colombia and the US.