Bayer says settles some Magnevist lawsuits

FRANKFURT, April 16 (Reuters) - Bayer BAYG.DE has reached a settlement with some plaintiffs over claims the German drugmaker's contrast agent Magnevist caused a potentially fatal skin condition, the company said on Thursday.

“We were able to settle a number of individual legal disputes out of court without accepting liability,” Oliver Renner, a spokesman for Bayer’s prescription drug division, said. He gave no further details.

The first case was filed in 2007 by the mother of a patient who died in 2004 after receiving a Magnevist injection, used for magnetic resonance imaging.

The company had previously said that as of February, 241 U.S. lawsuits involving Magnevist, which is based on the active ingredient gadolinium, were pending and it was anticipating more to be lodged.

Plaintiffs allege some Magnevist patients developed nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), a rare condition affecting people suffering from kidney disease. Symptoms range from large areas of hardened skin to damaged joints, eyes, and internal organs.

Bayer has said it would defend itself vigorously against any claims related to the agent.

The group generated 241 million euros ($319 million) from Magnevist in 2008, down 20 percent year-on-year. Bayer made a total of 15.7 billion euros from healthcare products last year.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled in 2007 that gadolinium-based contrast agents should carry strong NSF warnings.

Similar imaging agents are also made by General Electric's GE.N GE Healthcare, Tyco International's TYC.N Mallinckrodt unit, and Bracco Diagnostics Inc., the FDA said.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Frank Siebelt; editing by John Stonestreet