Teva says it will discontinue powerful sedative, which is at the center of infection lawsuits

Friday, May 28, 2010

Teva says it will stop making propofol sedative

NEW YORK — Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said Friday it will stop making its sedative propofol, which became infamous when it was linked to the death of Michael Jackson last year.

Teva did not say why it is discontinuing propofol, but the company is facing almost 250 lawsuits connected to the drug. It is a sedative often used in operating rooms.

The Food and Drug Administration says there has been a shortage of the drug since last fall because manufacturing problems forced both Teva and Hospira Inc. to suspend manufacturing and recall some of the product.

To help deal with the shortage, the agency authorized the importation of a version approved in Europe.

AstraZeneca PLC developed the brand name version of the drug, which is called Divipran. Teva, Hospira, and Eisai Co. of Japan have been authorized to sell generic versions.

Teva, which is based in Israel, said it will continue marketing doses that have already been made. The company said it believes propofol is safe and effective when it is used properly.

In 2008, propofol was connected to a hepatitis C outbreak that infected as many as 114 people. Vials of propofol were allegedly used to treat more than one patient each, spreading the liver disease.

Earlier this month, a court ordered Teva to pay $356 million to a man who said he contracted hepatitis C from a vial of propofol. Teva’s partner, Baxter International Inc., was ordered to pay $144 million. Both companies say they plan to appeal that verdict, and Teva said that if the man contracted hepatitis C from the clinic, it was because the drug was “blatantly misused.”

Teva shares fell 75 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $54.95 in morning trading Friday.

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