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Agreement to Settle Testosterone Cases Against Actavis Finalized, Vacating August Trial Date

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The first scheduled testosterone bellwether trial involving injuries associated with the use of Androderm has been canceled, after the parties confirmed that a master settlement agreement has been fully executed, which is expected to resolve most or all of the testosterone cases filed against Actavis and it’s subsidiaries. 

The claims are part of a massive mass-tort litigation over failure to warn about the side effects of testosterone replacement therapy, which also includes claims against the makers of AndroGel, Axiron, Testim and other drugs, which have been linked to reports of heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, blood clots and other life-threatening health problems.

There are currently more 6,000 testosterone drug cases pending in the federal court system, which are centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois, as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

As part of the coordinated proceedings in the MDL, Judge Kennelly has scheduled a series of early “bellwether” trials against each drug maker, which are designed to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their cases.

In late June, Judge Kennelly agreed to place a stay on all Androderm cases pending against Actavis, after the parties informed him that they were nearing a settlement agreement. However, at that time, he did not vacate the first scheduled Androderm bellwether trial, which was set to begin on August 6. However, in a Docket Entry (PDF) posted on July 26, the court announced that the master settlement agreement “has been fully executed”, and that the trial date is now vacated.

It is estimated that about 500 of the testosterone cases pending before Judge Kennelly involve Androderm, which was manufactured and sold by Actavis subsidiaries. No details of the potential Androderm settlement have been released.

Actavis is at least the third drug maker that decided to settle testosterone injury claims, rather than allowing cases to proceed before a jury. Auxilium Pharmaceuticals announced an agreement to settle about 1,300 Testim lawsuits earlier this year, and late last year Eli Lilly announced that it has agreed to settle all Axiron cases involving their testosterone gel.

The announced settlements are expected to resolve about one-third of the pending litigation, but no testosterone case settlements have been announced involving Androgel, which was the most widely used drug, accounting for the bulk of the lawsuits filed nationwide.

AbbVie has continued to defend cases at trial, despite being hit with several large jury verdicts. A series of 19 Androgel trials are expected to begin later this year, if additional settlements are not reached.

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