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As an increasing number of men come forward to report that they are suffering permanent sexual dysfunction from side effects of Propecia, a prescription medication for treatment of male hair loss, nearly 400 product liability lawsuits over Propecia have been filed against Merck.
Propecia (finasteride) is marketed to help men restore natural hair loss that occurs with male pattern baldness. However, the mounting Propecia lawsuits filed in state and federal courts throughout the country allege that the medication caused them to develop permanent sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, genital shrinkage and problems with cognition.
These issues have also been linked to severe depression and at least one man has reportedly committed suicide due to the Propecia problems.
In April 2012, the FDA required Merck to add an update to the Propecia warning label, indicating that sexual issues reported by some men persist even after the drug is discontinued. Prior warnings provided to consumers in the United States suggested the potential side effects were temporary, despite indications provided in several European countries about the risk of permanent issues.
Since that time, the number of lawsuits over Propecia sexual dysfunction have steadily grown in state and federal courts throughout the United States.
Some of the lawsuits claim that the rate of sexual dysfunction has been found to affect as many as 39% of Propecia users. The lawsuits also claim that a 2003 study found that only 50% of patients saw sexual problems dissipate after they discontinued using Propecia. The lawsuits claim that the differences in labels in the U.S. and Europe prove that Merck knew that Propecia was linked to long-term sexual problems, but chose not to share that information with U.S. men.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized the federal Propecia litigation in April 2012, consolidating all cases as part of an MDL before U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York.
A large number of cases have also been filed in New Jersey state court, which is where Merck’s U.S. headquarters are located. Lawsuits filed throughout the state have been centralized before Superior Court Judge Jessica R. Mayer in Middlesex County.
According to the latest information released by the courts, there are currently at least 139 cases consolidated as part of the federal Propecia MDL, with an additional 251 Propecia cases pending in New Jersey state court.