Oregon Health System Settles Chemotherapy Death Lawsuit

Oregon Health System Settles Chemotherapy Death Lawsuit: Oregon Health & Science University (“OHSU”) reportedly has agreed to pay $1 million to the widow of a cancer patient who allegedly died as a result of a toxic reaction to a chemotherapy drug due to a genetic variant that affects about 8% of the population. OHSU reportedly also agreed as part of the settlement that its oncologists will advise patients about the genetic variant before initiating the chemotherapy drug capecitabine.

The Underlying Facts

78-year-old David McIntyre was diagnosed in September 2018 with bile duct cancer and he received cancer treatment at OHSU. His genetic condition prevented him from processing the chemotherapy medication capecitabine that was prescribed to treat his cancer, which caused him to become violently ill, including vomiting and developing a rash and diarrhea. If treated promptly with an antidote, the effects can be reversed and resolved. The Oregon medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit filed by the man’s widow in 2019 alleged that OHSU failed to advise her husband about his genetic variant and failed to timely administer the antidote. Her husband died on December 12, 2018.

The man’s widow formed a nonprofit organization that advocates for increased education and testing for the genetic variant that led to her husband’s death: “I could not just allow his death to be in vain. I just gritted my teeth and decided this was my goal for the rest of my life.”


5-Fluorouracil (5-FU), its oral prodrugs capecitabine and tegafur (fluoropyrimidines; FP) are amongst the most frequently prescribed anti-cancer drugs in the treatment of common cancer types such as colorectal, gastrointestinal, and breast cancer. A subset of patients (10–40%) treated with FP experience moderate to severe toxicities, including vomiting, diarrhea, and hand-foot syndrome. DPD testing [either the enzyme activity of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) or the DPYD genotype] identifies patients at higher risk for toxicity who may be treated more safely with a lower drug dose.

Although not all DPD deficiencies and FP toxicity can be explained by known genetic variants, pretreatment testing for DPYD variants is a well-known strategy to detect DPD deficiencies and improve patient safety. Pretreatment DPYD genotyping identifies approximately 50% of the patients that will develop severe FP toxicity. However, because not all variation in DPD enzyme activity can be explained by genetic variants, other methods such as DPD phenotyping may be used to detect decreased DPD activity. Patients with a complete or partly deficient DPD enzyme can be more safely treated with a reduced dose of FP or an alternative drug.


If you or a loved one were injured due to medical malpractice in Oregon or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find an Oregon medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click on the “Contact Us Now” tab to the right, visit our website, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in your state who may assist you.

Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 16th, 2022 at 5:28 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


Easy Free Consultation

Fill out the form below for a free consultation or contact us directly at 800.295.3959.
  • Please enter the correct answer to this math problem.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    Easy Free Consultation

    Fill out the form below for a free consultation or contact us directly at 800.295.3959