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Paralyzed man sends drug firm to court

ONE of the apparent victims of a contaminated leukemia drug was in court this week seeking nearly 10 million yuan (US$1.46 million) in compensation from Shanghai Hualian Pharmaceutical Co for his partial paralysis.

The Xicheng District People's Court in Beijing heard the lawsuit on Wednesday. It did not render an immediate verdict.

The Peking University People's Hospital, which provided treatment to the victim, was also listed as a defendant.

The case involves a 24-year-old Shanxi Province native surnamed Wang who received treatment for leukemia in the hospital in April 2007, including injections of methotrexate, a drug that's commonly used to fight the disease.

"But after using the medicine for at least 20 days, my son experienced difficulty walking and in urination," Wang's mother told the Beijing Evening News.

She said her son now suffers from leg paralysis and excretory difficulties.

Following a warning by food and drug authorities, the hospital told the patient and his family that the medicine may have been contaminated with other drugs and could damage the nervous systems of those who used it.

The mother told the Beijing newspaper that her son had planned to receive a marrow transplant in September 2007. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff said the contaminated drug caused him long-term disability and made the transplant impossible.

Wang is seeking 9.57 million yuan from the drug maker and the hospital to cover his past and future medical treatment and compensate him for his disability and mental anguish.

Hualian refused an interview with the Beijing newspaper after Wednesday's hearing.

Hualian said in its pleading that Wang failed to show evidence to prove that his paralysis and other symptoms were caused by the company's medicine, and it also said the compensation request was too high.

The hospital said at the hearing that it was not responsible because all the medicines it stocked were obtained through legal channels.

In July 2007, leukemia patients across the country, including some in Shanghai, Beijing, Anhui Province and Hebei Province, reported leg pain and walking difficulty after taking the drug.

Media reports estimated the number of victims at 130, though there has been no official count.

China's drug administration found that several batches of methotrexate produced by Hualian were contaminated and revoked its production license in late 2007.


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