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Axiron Side Effect Lawsuits Selected for Bellwether Trials in Testosterone Litigation

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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal testosterone drug lawsuits has selected two cases filed against Eli Lilly to serve as bellwether test claims, involving allegations that Axiron side effects increase the risk of heart attack, deep vein thrombosis and other injuries.

The cases are part of a much larger litigation, involving more than 6,500 claims filed against the makers of Axiron, Androgel, Testim and various other testosterone replacement drugs, indicating that consumers and the medical community were not adequately warned about the potential risks associated with the treatments.

Given similar questions of fact and law raised in lawsuits brought by individuals nationwide, cases filed throughout the federal court system are centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

As part of the coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, Judge Kennelly has scheduled a series of early trial dates against each of the major drug makers involved in the litigation, which involve “representative” cases that will help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout other claims.

While a series of Androgel bellwether trials are already underway, involving claims against AbbVie over side effects associated with their market-leading testosterone treatment, additional trials involving claims over Eli Lilly’s Axiron product.

In a case management order (PDF) issued on June 22, Judge Kennelly indicated that complaints filed by Tracy Garner and John Debroka, Jr. will serve as the first two bellwether claims against Eli Lilly over Axiron, which are expected to go before juries in January and March 2018.

Garner, of Alabama, filed a complaint (PDF) against Eli Lilly in March 2015, indicating that he suffered a heart attack from Axiron, just three days after beginning treatment with the testosterone drug in March 2013.

DeBroka, of Florida, filed a complaint (PDF) in October 2015, indicating that he suffered a deep vein thrombosis from Axiron side effects in January 2014. His injury occurred after initiating treatment with the product in November 2013.

The first testosterone drug bellwether trial began earlier this month, involving an Androgel heart attack lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Konrad, of Tennessee. However, that case ended in a mistrial about a week later, after one of the plaintiff’s attorneys fell ill and could not continue.

A second Androgel bellwether case is scheduled to begin early next month, with a third case set to begin on September 18 and a fourth case against AbbVie in January 2018.

Additional bellwether trials involving injuries associated with the use of Testim, which is manufactured by Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, are expected to begin in early November 2017 and April 2018.

While the outcomes of these early trial dates will not be binding on other plaintiffs, they will be closely watched, as they may influence eventual testosterone settlement agreements that would be necessary to avoid the need for thousands of individual trials in courts nationwide.

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