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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal lawsuits brought by men who suffered heart attacks, strokes or other health problems from testosterone replacement therapy, has seletected 30 claims against Actavis, the makers of Androderm, which will be prepared for trial dates early next year.
The cases are part of a “bellwether” process, which is designed to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout more than 6,500 Androderm lawsuits, Androgel lawsuits and other claims brought against the makers of testosterone drugs in the federal court system.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised by each plaintiff in the litigation, all testosterone drug lawsuits have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois for coordinated discovery and management, as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).
A series of early Androgel trials are already underway, as that is the most widely used testosterone replacement drug. In October 2017, a jury awarded $140 million in damages to a man who suffered a heart attack on Androgel, and last month another jury awarded $3.2 million in another early bellwether case.
On April 10, Judge Kennelly issued a case management order (PDF) identifying 30 Androderm cases, known as Actavis Work-Up Group 1, which are to be prepared for trial. The cases were selected by the parties and Judge Kennelly has ordered that they be ready to go before juries for trials in February and March 2019.
This is the first of three rounds of Androderm bellwether trials, which will ultimately result in 100 claims being prepared. The second batch of “work-up” cases will be selected by May 15, and the third group by June 29.
For this first group of lawsuits, fact discovery should be completed by August 31, and plaintiffs are to disclose expert witness testimony for each case by September 14. Defendants have until September 28 to disclose their expert witness testimony, and all rebuttal expert witness disclosures must be made by October 12, 2018.
While the outcomes of these bellwether trials are not binding on other plaintiffs, they are being closely watched and may have a significant influence on eventual testosterone settlements that may avoid the need thousands of individual cases to go to trial nationwide.
Following early verdicts in Androgel bellwether trials, the manufacturers of Testim and Axiron have indicated that settlement agreements are being finalized to resolve all claims involving their products.
Earlier this week, Judge Kennelly issued a case management order (PDF) extending a stay on all discovery and bellwether deadlines for claims against Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, LLC, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and GlaxoSmithKline LLC, so that they may focus on finalizing a Testim settlement that is expected to resolve about 1,300 cases.
Eli Lilly is also working on finalizing an Axiron settlement that will resolve all claims involving that competing testosterone gel. However, the terms of neither deal have been disclosed yet.