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A federal jury has ordered AbbVie to pay $200,000 in compensatory damages to a man who suffered a heart attack while using AndroGel, as well as another $3 million in punitive damages, designed to punish the drug maker for withholding information from consumers and the medical community about the potential side effects of the testosterone replacement drug.
The case involved a retrial for claims brought by Jesse Mitchell, which previously resulted in a $150 million verdict in July 2017. However, following post-trial motions, the original verdict was thrown out and a new trial was ordered, since the jury only awarded punitive damages as a result of fraudulent misrepresentations made by AbbVie, without any finding that Mitchell was entitled to compensatory damages for his heart attack injury.
The verdict comes amid a series of early bellwether trials scheduled to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout thousands of Androgel lawsuits, Axiron lawsuits, Testim lawsuits and other claims brought against the makers of testosterone drugs in the federal court system.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised by each plaintiff in the testosterone drug litigation, the cases have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois for coordinated discovery and management, as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).
Following the original trial in the Mitchell case, AbbVie was hit with a verdict of $140 million in combined compensatory and punitive damages award in another bellwether trial that ended in October 2017. The drug maker also faces a series of additional trials over the remainder of this year, if settlements are not reached to resolve the litigation.
Originally, the bellwether program established by Judge Kennelly included claims against various different drug makers. However, following the early verdicts against AbbVie, Eli Lilly announced that it was proposing an Axiron settlement to resolve all of the testosterone claims against their company, and just days ago, Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline indicated that a Testim settlement agreement was being finalized. The terms of those deals have not yet been reported.