Brenntag Biosector A/S is not to blame for an allergic reaction experienced by calves

Attorney Torben Bondrop represented Brenntag Biosector A/S and its liability insurance company, XL Insurance, before the Eastern Division of the Danish High Court and the Danish Supreme Court in product liability proceedings in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment by the Eastern Division of the Danish High Court and consequently rendered a judgment in favour of Brenntag Biosector A/S.

On 15 November 1996 the British company, Grampian Pharmaceuticals Ltd., and the company's liability insurance company issued a writ against Plesner's client, Superfos Biosector A/S (now Brenntag Biosector A/S). For a number of years Brenntag Biosector A/S has sold a vaccine adjuvant called Quil-A to be used in vaccine manufacturers' manufacture of veterinary vaccines. In 1993 Brenntag Biosector A/S changed the manufacturing principle from a so-called column method to a so-called tank method, which - according to expert opinions procured while the matter pended before the Supreme Court - resulted in an increase of the content of a substance called polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) in the finished Quil-A.

Background

A Quil-A delivery from the first batch manufactured according to the new tank method was sold to Grampian Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Contrary to vaccine manufactured on the basis of previous batches from before the tank method that Grampian Pharmaceuticals Ltd. stated had not caused any problems, Grampian Pharmaceuticals Ltd. now experienced incomprehensible allergic problems with the vaccine for calves manufactured on the basis of the delivery from the first batch.

Supplementary survey and appraisal by an immunology expert

Grampian Pharmaceuticals Ltd. had initiated rather extensive trials with calves to demonstrate their view, but during the oral proceedings before the Supreme Court Mr Bondrop was able to plant a seed of doubt as to the validity of the trials, supported by a supplementary survey and appraisal by an immunology expert etc. Against such background the Supreme Court found that Grampian Pharmaceuticals Ltd. had not demonstrated a causal connection between the change in the production method and the problems experienced by Grampian Pharmaceuticals Ltd. The Supreme Court also had regard to the fact that in the pharmaceutical industry PVP was acknowledged as a substance with a very low risk of harmful effects. Finally, the Supreme Court also had regard to the fact that Brenntag Biosector A/S' other customers, which include a number of large veterinary pharmaceutical companies, had not reported any problems as a result of the changed manufacturing method despite Brenntag Bio-sector A/S sending a direct enquiry to such customers about the matter.

Judgment in favour of Brenntag Biosector A/S

Against the above background the Supreme Court reversed the judgment by the Eastern Division of the Danish High Court and rendered a judgment in favour of Brenntag Biosector A/S to its and its liability insurance company's, XL Insurance, satisfaction.

The tenth successful appearance at the Supreme Court

Torben Bondrop is one of Plesner's most experienced litigators and this is his tenth consecutive successful appearance at the Supreme Court.

If you have any questions about the case, please contact Torben Bondrop at tbo@plesner.com or tel: (+ 45) 33 12 11 33.