Plaintiffs repeat claim that companies knew about diluted drugs

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Internal company documents show two drug companies knew that Robert Courtney was diluting drugs as early as 1998, according to a motion filed Monday by attorneys for patients who received drugs from the former Kansas City pharmacist.

Neither Eli Lilly and Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. contacted any federal or state officials about their discovery. Because Courtney was not arrested until 2001, "countless cancer patients" suffered untimely deaths, the motion states.

The motion also claims that both companies have known of other potential tampering cases and have done nothing to prevent them.

Courtney pleaded guilty in February to 20 federal criminal charges of tampering with, adulterating and misbranding chemotherapy medications. He has since admitted diluting 72 drugs, dating back to at least 1992.

Monday's filing was a procedural move that does not change any of the counts alleged against Courtney in hundreds of wrongful death and injury civil lawsuits filed against him.

Last week, the Jackson County Circuit Court rejected a request by Bristol-Myers to require the plaintiffs to keep specific facts in the case under seal to keep the details from the public record.

In response to that order, Monday's motion gives much greater detail of the plaintiffs' case against Eli Lilly and Bristol Myers than had been made public before.

Mike Ketchmark, an attorney for the cancer patients and their families, said Monday that he would let the motion speak for itself.

Judy Kay Moore, a spokeswoman for Eli Lilly, said the new allegations "deceive the public and the court about the real facts here. The plaintiffs' lawyers are engaged in a game of smoke and mirrors."

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