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BAYCOL DEATHS


Bayer Says Baycol-related Deaths Total Around 100

FRANKFURT, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Germany's Bayer AG said on Friday the number of known deaths related to use of the cholesterol drug Baycol, withdrawn from sale last year, had doubled from an earlier estimate of 52.

A Bayer spokesman told Reuters the group was now aware of around 100 deaths linked to use of the drug.

In August, Bayer withdrew Baycol after it was linked with 52 deaths around the world. The recall will cost the company about 800 million euros ($704.8 million) in lost operating earnings in 2001.

SPATE OF LAWSUITS

The Baycol recall led to a spate of lawsuits against Bayer and speculation that the inventor of aspirin a century ago would have to meet compensation claims.

US and German attorneys said this week they were filing an amended class-action lawsuit in the United States against Bayer to include victims of Baycol in Germany and other countries.

Including non-US cases in a US class-action lawsuit could be costlier for Bayer than if the cases were heard by German or other courts. The United States allows for punitive damages, and cases there often have higher compensation payouts.

The amended suit names Bayer AG and US subsidiary Bayer Corporation as defendants, as well as GlaxoSmithKline Plc. SmithKline Beecham, before it merged with Glaxo, agreed in 1997 to co-market the cholesterol drug in the United States.

Reuters By Steven Silber

 

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