Testosterone Lawsuits Exceed 1100 in MDL, With More than 700 Androgel Cases

According to documents filed in advance of a status conference this week in the federal testosterone litigation, there are already about 1,100 cases filed against against all manufacturers, with at least 714 involving Androgel lawsuits filed against Abbvie.

In June 2014, all testosterone lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country were centralized as part of a single MDL, or multidistrict litigation, for coordinated pretrial proceeding, regardless of which drug manufacturers were involved in the case or which specific medications were taken.

All of the complaints involve nearly identical allegations, indicating that the drug makers failed to adequately warn men that side effects of testosterone therapy may increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or other injury.

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U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly is presiding over the coordinated pretrial proceedings in the lawsuits out of the Northern District of Illinois

According to a motion (PDF) filed by the drug maker AbbVie on February 18, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases filed over the past four months, particularly involving AbbVie’s Androgel product, which is the most widely used testosterone replacement medication on the market.

In October 2014, there were 351 claims pending against all drug makers, with 244 of the cases filed against AbbVie. As of early February, that number had increased to roughly 1,100 claims overall, with 714 cases against AbbVie in the MDL. However, many estimates suggest that there will ultimately be thousands of cases filed by men who suffered injuries.

A status conference is scheduled for this afternoon, at which time the Court will meet with leadership attorneys representing plaintiffs and the drug makers.

Selection of Androgel Bellwether Cases

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, Judge Kennelly has ordered that a small group of Androgel cases be prepared to go before juries, known as “bellwether” cases, with a series of six trials scheduled to begin about one-per-month between October 2016 and April 2017.

In the motion filed this week by AbbVie, the drug maker is seeking a modification of the process for selecting these cases, due to the rapid growth of the litigation.

Indicating that timing provisions in the original order are no longer practical for an informed process of selecting representative cases, AbbVie has asked that the Court require plaintiffs to submit completed fact sheets, which provide details of their case, within 60 days. The drug maker claims that it has received less than 10% of the fact sheets needed for medical record collection and review.

“AbbVie and Plaintiffs are scheduled to make a joint submission to the Court regarding bellwether selection on July 11, 2015 — less than five months away,” wrote the drug maker in the motion. “AbbVie and Plaintiffs have each expressed a desire for meaningful review of PFS [Plaintiffs’ fact sheets] and collection and review of medical records before making any recommendation to the Court regarding the process for bellwether selection. But under the current PFS Order, AbbVie and Plaintiffs will have access to completed PFS and medical records for just a small percentage of Plaintiffs before making their July submission – an unintended, uninformed, and prejudicial result for both parties.”

While Plaintiffs have not yet responded in writing to the motion, Judge Kennelly indicated in a minute entry posted to the MDL docket yesterday that the parties should be prepared to address the reqest during the case management conference scheduled for this afternoon.

Testosterone Litigation Status

In addition to cases filed against AbbVie, the testosterone MDL also includes Axiron lawsuits, Testim lawsuits, Androderm lawsuits, Depo-Testosterone lawsuits and all other claims involving any prescription testosterone replacement therapy, regardless of the manufacturer.

A separate bellwether track has been established for early test trials involving other testosterone drugs, which are not expected to begin until at least mid-2017.

These early trial dates 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, with the cases selected serving as representative samples of other claims.

While the outcome of any early bellwether trials will not be binding on other lawsuits, the process is designed to help parties evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, potentially facilitate in testosterone drug settlements that will avoid the need for individual trials to be scheduled nationwide.

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