Hagens Berman attorneys representing plaintiffs in the US seeking compensation from the manufacturer and distributors of the birth defect-causing drug Thalidomide today lauded a $81 million settlement announced for Australian victims, but said progress for a similar settlement against GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY) does not appear likely without moving to trial.
Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, represents 49 victims who suffered birth defects after their mothers took the drug. Newly unearthed documents provide additional evidence that major pharmaceutical companies including GSK and Sanofi-Aventis distributed the dangerous birth defect-causing drug Thalidomide in the United States much more widely than previously believed.
“It is gratifying to see that the drug’s distributor in Australia stepped up and reached an equitable settlement for its role in the devastation Thalidomide caused in Australia,” Berman said. “In contrast, the primary marketers in the US, the defendants have been assertively belligerent in their approach to the US case, attempting every legal tactic available to deny a trial.”
Diageo, the Australian and New Zealand distributor of Thalidomide, announced $81 million settlement on Dec. 2, 2013.According to Berman, GSK has put forth a long litany of claims in its defense with one of the more galling questioning the source of the drug that led to the birth defects in the US. “GSK is disputing that it was the source of Thalidomide for women who took the drug prior to 1958, in spite of the fact that GSK was the only distributor in the US at that time,” Berman said. “While we expect the company to construct a vigorous defense, we think that GSK should not be foisting such transparently spurious claims simply to slow the pace of the litigation.” In addition to GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis, many of the 49 cases filed by Hagens Berman also name Grunenthal GMBH as defendants.