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Bayer Ruled Not Liable in $560M Drug Suit

March 18, 2003

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) _ A jury Tuesday cleared Bayer Corp. of any liability in a $560 million lawsuit that accused the drug giant of ignoring reports that linked the anti-cholesterol drug Baycol to deaths.

The jury deliberated for 2 1/2 days before returning the verdict. It was the first of about 8,000 cases against Bayer to go to trial.

The lawsuit was brought by Hollis Haltom, an 82-year-old engineer who said a muscle-wasting disease caused by Baycol severely weakened his legs.

His lawyers had produced e-mails and internal documents to argue that the pharmaceutical giant failed to adequately warn doctors about the possible side effects of the drug before it was pulled off the market.

Bayer acknowledged the link between the drug and rhabdomyolysis, which can clog the kidneys with disintegrating muscle tissue and cause them to fail, but said it acted responsibly by withdrawing the drug in August 2001.

The Food and Drug Administration linked Baycol to at least 52 deaths worldwide, including 31 in the United States.

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