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There are currently at least 5,500 testosterone drug lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, each involving similar claims that the makers of Androgel, Testim, Axiron and other popular treatments failed to adequately warn users about the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or other injury.
Given the similar questions of fact and law presented in the claims, complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation. Since June 2014, the cases have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois to prevent duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, the parties have been preparing a group of Androgel cases for early trial dates, since that is the most widely used testosterone replacement therapy. While the outcomes of these early bellwether trials will not be binding on other claims, they will be closely watched by those involved in the litigation, as they may help gauge how juries will respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
Following proposals submitted by the parties, and arguments presented on August 3, Judge Kennelly issued an order (PDF) on Thursday, identifying the eight cases that will be the first to go before a jury, including four cases involving a heart attack or stroke, and four involving a blood clot injury, such as a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.
A lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Konrad has been identified as the first case that will be tried, involving a myocardial infarction following use of Androgel. The trial is expected to begin next July. However, the order of the remaining cases will be decided at a later date.
Following the series of eight Androgel trials, Judge Kennelly is expected to schedule a second group of bellwether trials involving Testim lawsuits, Axiron lawsuits, Androderm lawsuits and claims involving other drugs.
If the parties fail to reach testosterone settlements or another resolution for the litigation following the bellwether trials, Judge Kennelly could begin remanding hundreds of individual trials to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates.