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Agreement to Settle Androgel Cases Results in Stay of All Lawsuits Against AbbVie in MDL

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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal testosterone lawsuits has issued a stay on all pretrial proceedings involving Androgel cases filed against AbbVie, after the parties notified the court that they are working on finalizing a global settlement agreement.

There are currently more than 6,000 product liability cases pending in the federal court system against various drug makers, each raising similar allegations that inadequate warnings were provided about the potential side effects of testosterone replacement therapy, which have been linked to reports of heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, blood clots and other life-threatening health problems.

The majority of cases pending involve Androgel lawsuits against AbbVie, which manufactured and sold the most widely used testosterone drug on the market before health concerns emerged.

In October 2017, a federal jury awarded $140 million in damages to a man who claimed he suffered a heart attack from Androgel, and a second case resulted in another jury award of $3.2 million earlier this year. Both cases involved substantial punitive damages designed to punish AbbVie for recklessly disregarding the health of men using their “Low T” treatment.

While claims have also been filed over injuries linked to Axiron, Testim and Androderm, the manufacturers of each of those competing products have already announced that agreements have been reached in recent months to resolve claims.

Since AbbVie has previously failed to reach a settlement agreement, at least 19 Androgel cases were set for trial to begin between October 2018 and March 2019. These “bellwether” claims were designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

However, in a case management order (PDF) issued on September 10, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly placed a stay on all cases pending against AbbVie so that the parties can devote their efforts to finalizing a Master Settlement Agreement.

According to the Court, the parties have entered into to a Confidential Term Sheet to settle Androgel cases filed against AbbVie. However, details about the agreement were not released.

“Based on this report, the Court directs that all proceedings involving plaintiffs and one or more AbbVie Defendants will be stayed, except as hereafter ordered by the Court, so that the parties may devote their efforts to finalizing a Master Settlement Agreement,” Judge Kennelly ordered. “The parties are directed to report on a regular basis to Special Master Randi Ellis regarding their progress.”

A case management conference scheduled for September 13 was also vacated, given the stay of AbbVie cases.

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