Jury awards $5 million in lawsuit against Omniscan alleging gadolinium dye caused nephrogenic systemic fibrosis

by Michael Heygood

A jury has ruled against GE Healthcare in the first jury trial regarding the company’s Omniscan dye. The jury awarded $5 million to a sixty-one-year-old retiree who was stricken with nephrogenic systemic fibrosis after receiving just one dose of Omniscan.

Gadodiamide, commonly marketed under the trade name Omniscan, is among a small group of drugs administered to patients before an MRI scan. Called contrast agents, the drugs enhance the differences between fluids and structures in the body when they appear on scans, making diagnosis easier. Omniscan is sold by a unit of General Electric called GE Healthcare.

Omniscan includes gadolinium, a substance that researchers have found can cause nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered in May 2007 that U.S. makers of products containing gadolinium include a black-box warning on labels about the dyes’ risks.

Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, or NSF, is a rare and serious syndrome that involves fibrosis of skin, joints, eyes, and internal organs. NSF, patients develop large areas of hardened skin with fibrotic nodules and plaques. NSF can also cause joint pain and limitation in range of motion. In its most severe form, NSF may cause severe systemic fibrosis affecting internal organs including the lungs, heart and liver.

According to Decker’s lawsuit, he developed nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, or NSF, after receiving only one dose of Omniscan. Paul Decker received the Omniscan dye during 2005 tests on his heart. NSF left him immobile and dependent on 24-hour care.

Decker alleged that GE officials knew patients with impaired renal function (i.e., a history of kidney ailments) were at a higher risk for developing NSF from Gadolinium-based contrast agents. Over the course of a 17-day trail, Decker’s attorneys introduced evidence that GE Healthcare withheld important studies and FDA evidence that chronicled the dangers of Omniscan. In the end, the jury agreed with Decker and found that the company had failed to provide reasonable and adequate warnings to doctors and patients about those risks.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have made it a career priority to hold drug manufacturers and pharmacies accountable and responsible for their actions. If you or a loved one has experienced the tragedy of losing a family member as a result of a delinquent pharmacy, drug manufacturer, compounding company or health care provider, you and your family deserve answers to your questions. If your loss was as a result of a defective drug or perhaps a physician’s negligence, you have the right to demand that the negligent drug company, pharmacist or physician be held responsible.

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by Michael Heygood

Michael Heygood is a licensed attorney and partner at HO&P who focuses on insurance and corporate litigation, and other civil arenas. Michael has been named multiple times to the Super Lawyers List.