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Hep C Victims Watched Court Case Closely | Health

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Hep C Victims Watched Court Case Closely

LAS VEGAS -- Michael Washington watched last week's hepatitis C jury verdict with great interest. In 2007, he was the first hepatitis patient genetically linked to Doctor Dipak Desai's endoscopy clinic.

For three years in a row, Washington's court date to hold somebody liable for the virus he contracted has been pushed back. He's glad Henry Chanin has justice, but wonders if he'll still be around to ever have justice of his own.

Washington's retirement years are one long struggle with the seemingly unstoppable health decline of hepatitis C. Washington was one of several patients who contracted hepatitis C from the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada in 2007. Investigators say syringes were re-used by Doctor Desai's staff.

A jury awarded hepatitis C patient Henry Chanin $500 million from drug companies Teva and Baxter Pharmaceuticals, a verdict Washington's attorney Ed Bernstein followed closely.

"Knowing there is misuse of that product, you cannot continue to sell that product and turn the other cheek knowing its being misused and that people are suffering. And you're just making more profit," he said.

Washington's trial against Teva and Baxter, scheduled for January 2011, depends on the outcome of Dr. Desai's bankruptcy case. Nevada law caps medical malpractice jury verdicts at $350,000. A settlement with Nevada Mutual Insurance was nearly reached last year, but Baxter and Teva objected.

Josephine Washington does not have her husband's hepatitis C, but she bears his pain nonetheless. "Not being able to vent to anybody else. I have to be the one who's always up. It's tough," she said.

"The main thing is, not letting depression take over and anger take over and ruin your family life," said Washington.

With years of court appeals ahead, the 70-year-old may never see any large sums of money from the propfol drug companies he believes are partly to blame for the constant pain he faces.