Baxter Won't Tie 3M to Case-3M Said it Was Unaware Baxter Was Using Chemical That Led To Deaths - St. Paul Pioneer Press - November 30, 2001

Baxter Won't Tie 3M to Case - 3M Said it Was Unaware Baxter Was Using Chemical That Led To Deaths By: Kevin Maler St. Paul Pioneer Press
November 30, 2001

Baxter International Inc. won't pursue legal action against 3M Co. or otherwise hold it responsible for its unwitting role in a medical fiasco that left dozens dead around the world, the company said Thursday.

The comments come roughly a month after Deerwood, Ill.-based Baxter acknowledged that some of its dialyzers -- filters used in dialysis that remove toxins from the bloodstream -- caused the deaths of dozens of patients around the world. Baxter said a 3M fluid used for testing was directly responsible.

Baxter never directly blamed Maplewood-based 3M for the dialyzers' problems, but it hadn't specifically ruled out pursuing some kind of action against its supplier. On Thursday, Baxter spokeswoman Sally Benjamin Young said her firm won't sue 3M.

Her comments followed published remarks by Harry Kraemer, Baxter's chairman and chief executive, who made it clear that Baxter alone had to take responsibility for the problems of its product.

"What our CEO was saying is, 'Look, we made the product, we're responsible for the product,' " said Young.

While 3M's chemical played a central role in the deaths of the patients --reportedly more than 50 -- 3M executives have said they weren't aware until recently that their product was even used by Baxter to test its dialyzers.

The chemical, a perflourohydrocarbon, is generally sold to electronics manufacturers and wasn't intended for use as part of a medical device, 3M has said.

While Baxter's decision not to sue eliminates one legal threat, 3M still faces litigation over the issue. A law firm in Chicago, Kenneth B. Moll & Associates, has filed a suit on behalf of victims that names both Baxter and 3M as defendants.