Class-Action Settlement Brings Closure for E-Ferol Victims

Published: Apr. 13, 2010 at 10:18 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2010 at 12:54 PM CDT
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When Victoria Klein was just days old, she was given a vitamin E supplement that's linked to the deaths of more than 80 babies. Now the maker and distributor of that supplement are paying Victoria and other Texoma families, all victims of E-Ferol in one way or another, in a multi-million dollar settlement.

The intravenous drug was given to preemies to help prevent or reduce blindness, often without even telling the parents.  But the Food and Drug Administration had never approved the use of the supplement, which in many cases, proved to be deadly.  Electra resident Victoria Klein didn't know she had received it as a baby until 2002.

"I didn't think we got it, and I signed my medical release and sure enough, I've got a lot of it," she said.

The supplement had already been on the market for four and a half months before researchers linked it's water soluble agent to kidney and liver failure in babies.  Klein hasn't faced any symptoms to this point, but she does have to get her liver and kidneys checked every year.

"I was shocked at first, and now I'm angry about it.  I was disappointed at first," she said.

Art Brender, the Fort Worth attorney who started the class action suit in 2003, says both the manufacturer and distributor of E-Ferol lied about having FDA approval for the product.

"It's, I think, one of the worst instances of malfeasance and negligence," he said.

Neither E-Ferol's maker, Carter-Glogau Laboratories, nor the distributor, O'Neal, Jones, and Feldman Pharmaceuticals, are in operation anymore.  The settlement has the companies' insurance paying $110 million to the 369 plaintiffs in the class action suit.  Klein will be receiving more than $35,000 in the settlement.  She says she hopes it gives at least some relief to the parents of infants who died.

"The families that lost children, I can't imagine what they're going through, but I hope that this kinda puts some closure for it.  It will never replace the child.  Ever," she said.

Overall, Brender estimates at least 80 babies died from receiving E-Ferol.  Forty-two of the people he represents are parents who lost children.  Many of them didn't know their child had received the supplement until Brender contacted them

The manufacturer and distributor of E-Ferol paid $130,000 in fines in 1989.  Both of the top executives spent six months in jail for conspiracy, marketing an unapproved drug, and misbranding a drug.

Spencer Blake, Newschannel 6.