Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., one of the largest drug makers in the world, has settled more than 80 lawsuits filed by Las Vegas residents that claim the plaintiffs contracted hepatitis C due to the way the company packaged one of its anesthesia products. As part of the settlements, Teva will reportedly pay more than $250 million to the plaintiffs, who had complained that the company’s decision to sell the anesthetic Propofol exclusively in large vials led doctors to reuse the vials, increasing the chances the drug would become tainted.

The lawsuits followed a 2008 outbreak of hepatitis C in the Las Vegas area. The Centers for Disease control later blamed the spike in the disease to reuse of Propofol vials by physicians administering colonoscopies to patients. So far, at least five plaintiffs have been awarded multi-million dollar verdicts, including one man who was awarded more than $500 million and four more plaintiffs whom Teva was ordered to pay a total of more than $162 million.

Those suits were apparently on appeal, but the settlement, announced by one plaintiff in a Feb. 17 filing with the Nevada Supreme Court, appears to resolve those as well as dozens of pending cases.

Teva also confirmed the settlement, though the generic drug manufacturer declined to say how much it would pay. But an article in the San Francisco Chronicle cited sources indicating the total figure would top $250 million. Teva said in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had set aside $270 million for the Propofol litigation.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, “Teva Said to Pay $250 million to End Nevada Propofol Cases,” Jef Feeley, Feb. 21, 2012