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Master Complaint Approved for Cialis Melanoma Lawsuits

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As part of the coordinated federal litigation involving all claims for failure to warn about the melanoma side effects of Viagra, a Master and Short Form Complaint have been approved for new Cialis lawsuits against Eli Lilly, which involve similar allegations with the competing erectile dysfunction drug.

In April 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established centralized pretrial proceedings in the federal court system for all Viagra lawsuits filed against Pfizer nationwide, since each raised similar questions of fact and law about whether the medication caused men to develop a serious and potentially life-treatening form of skin cancer known as melanoma.

Pfizer currently faces nearly 300 cases brought on behalf of men who indicate they developed melanoma after using Viagra, which are consolidated before U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in the Northern District of California to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

As an increasing number of claims continue to be filed over melanoma problems with Cialis, Judge Seeborg issued orders last week, approving a Master Long Form Complaint (PDF) and a Master Short Form Complaint (PDF) for new cases brought against Eli Lilly, which manufactures the competing drug.

The use of a Master and Short Form complaint is designed to simplify the filing process, and coordinate the claims raised in a large number of lawsuits, allowing each plaintiff to adopt certain common allegations.

Judge Seeborg approved similar forms for the filing of Viagra cases against Pfizer in November 2016.

Melanoma Side Effects

Viagra (sildenafil citrate) and Cialis (tadalafil) are similar medications used by millions of men to treat impotence and sexual dysfunction, including the inability to develop or maintain an erection.

While the medications are generally assumed to be safe by most consumers, studies released in recent years have suggested that Viagra, Cialis and other drugs from the same class of medications may actually reduce the body’s ability to resist the spread of melanoma.

The Viagra melanoma lawsuits began to emerge after a study was published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine in April 2014, in which researchers from Harvard Medical School found that men who took Viagra were 84% more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than men who do not use the drug.

Plaintiffs allege that Pfizer knew or should have known about the Viagra cancer risk for years, indicating that studies published as early as 2011 suggested that the erectile dysfunction drug may promote melanoma cell invasion. Another study published in the Journal of Cell Biochemistry in 2012 also found that PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra could exacerbate melanoma development.

The American Cancer Society indicates that melanoma is diagnosed in about 69,000 Americans each year and causes about 8,650 deaths annually. The skin cancer usually manifests as unusual moles or patches of skin. While it is often curable if caught early, once melanoma has spread beyond the skin and local lymph nodes, treatment is difficult and it may ultimately result in death.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings before Judge Seeborg, it is expected that a small group of representative Viagra cases will be selected for a series of “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be presented throughout the claims.

While the outcomes of these trials will not be binding on other claims, they may influence eventual negotiations with Pfizer and Eli Lilly to reach melanoma settlements. However, if the drug makers fails to settle or resolve the litigation following the MDL proceedings, each case may be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date.

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