Drug company to pay out NIS 47.5m for causing depression and hair loss
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Drug company to pay out NIS 47.5m for causing depression and hair loss

Perrigo Israel sued by users of thyroid medicine Eltroxin after change in formula left hundreds with side effects

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustration image of prescription drugs. September 3, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Illustration image of prescription drugs. September 3, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

An Israeli drug company has agreed to pay out NIS 42.7 million ($12.14 million) in compensation to users of one of its drugs that left hundreds suffering from significant side effects after a change was made in the formula for the medicine.

Perrigo Israel Agencies, the local branch of US drug manufacturer Perrigo, reached an agreement with plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed over Eltroxin, a drug used to treat underactive thyroids, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Sunday.

A deal was reached after months of mediation between the two sides led by former Supreme Court president Asher Grunis. The agreement is to be submitted to the Supreme Court for approval.

Those entitled to compensation are patients who were regularly taking Eltroxin before February 2011, and then used the new formula without being told by the doctor to have a blood test to verify there were no unwanted side effects from the drug, the report said.

Eltroxin (courtesy)

Under the terms of the agreements patients will be entitled to payouts of between NIS 4,200 ($1,100) and NIS 9,000 ($2,560). An additional NIS 5.2 million ($1,480,000) is to be earmarked as a public donation toward improving treatment and followup for endocrinology patients.

Eltroxin was distributed in Israel in 2010 and used by some 250,000 patients. In February 2011 the formula was changed by the manufacturer supplying the medicine to Perrigo. Although Perrigo informed local clients such as health care organizations and doctors, prosecutors argued the company did not stress to doctors and pharmacists the need for patients to have a blood test after taking the new formula. It also did not change the instructions on packaging until August 2011, despite worrying side effects having been found in New Zealand and Denmark.

Within weeks hundreds of users began to complain of side effects that in some cases included depression and hair loss.

In the panic that followed, the Heath Ministry set up an investigative committee that found a connection between the introduction of the new formula and the reported side effects.

A class action lawsuit was approved in 2015 against Perrigo Israel. Following an appeal, mediation was ordered.

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