Androgel Lawsuits Identified By Parties for Bellwether Trial Pool

A group of 32 AndroGel lawsuits have been selected for a bellwether trial pool in the federal litigation over testosterone replacement therapy, where the first test cases are expected to start going before juries by this time next year.

There are currently more than 2,700 testosterone lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, which each involve similar allegations that the manufacturers of Androgel, Testim, Axiron and other low T drugs failed to adequately warn about the risk that men may suffer a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or other injury.

The cases have been consolidated for discovery and pretrial proceedings as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) since June 2014, with U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly presiding over the cases out of the Northern District of Illinois to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different Courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

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Since most of the complaints filed to date have been brought against AbbVie over their Androgel treatment, which is the most widely used testosterone replacement therapy, Judge Kennelly has established a “bellwether” program that calls for a group of Androgel cases to be prepared for a series of six trials that will begin between October 2016 and April 2017.

While the outcomes of these trials will not be binding on other cases, they are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation and may help promote Androgel settlements to resolve the litigation without the need for hundreds of individual trials nationwide.

On November 2, the court received the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee’s proposed case list (PDF) and the Defense’s proposed case list (PDF), each containing 16 lawsuits that would be eligible for case-specific discovery.

Under guidelines previously provided by Judge Kennelly, each side selected eight claims involving a blood clot injury and eight involving testosterone heart injuries. The complaints were chosen from a pool of 100 randomly-selected cases where AbbVie, the maker’s of Androgel was listed as the only defendant. The cases also had to include a completed Plaintiffs’ Fact Sheet by June 15, 2015.

While both sides submitted lists, attorneys for AbbVie and its former parent company, Abbott Laboratories, indicated in their proposal that they still believe the Court should randomly select the 32 bellwether discovery pool cases, suggesting that having the parties select them could result in gamesmanship, where attorneys pick cases they are most likely to win instead of those truly representative of the larger body of litigation.

Each side has until November 9 to object to cases proposed by the other side.

In addition to claims involving injuries allegedly caused by Androgel, Judge Kennelly is also presiding over Axiron lawsuits, Testim lawsuits, Androderm lawsuits and cases involving side effects of other testosterone drugs.

Following the Androgel trials, a second group of bellwether trials are expected involving lawsuits pending against other manufacturers, which will likely not begin until the second half of 2017.


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