Contact A Lawyer
Have A Potential Case Reviewed By An Attorney
As the litigation continues to move forward in a mounting number of lawsuits filed by men who have experienced sexual side effects from Propecia, the parties are working on a proposed plan for completing discovery and selecting a series of cases early trial dates, known as “bellwether” cases.
There are currently more than 1,100 Propecia lawsuits pending in state and federal courts throughout the United States, all involving similar claims that men have suffered severe sexual problems after using Propecia to restore hair loss. The product liability complaints allege that Merck failed to adequately warn men about the risk of long-lasting and even permanent sexual dysfunction that can result from use of the medications.
In the federal court system, at least 740 cases are currently consolidated for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York, where the Propecia cases is centralized as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation.
During a status conference held last week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky, lawyers involved in the federal litigation discussed the current status of discovery into general items that apply to all cases, including document production, depositions of Merck employees and the plan for collecting and maintaining medical records of the plaintiffs.
According to minutes (PDF) from that conference, the parties are currently discussion a plan for completion of discovery and selection of a small group of “bellwether” cases, which will be prepared for early trial dates in the MDL to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be offered throughout the litigation.
Such bellwether trials are common in complex pharmaceutical cases, where a large number of cases have been filed against a drug maker involving similar injuries or factual allegations. The preparation and outcome of these early trial dates may help facilitate further negotiations to reach Propecia settlements over sexual side effects experienced by hundreds of men.
In addition to the federal litigation, Merck faces more than 350 cases pending in New Jersey state court, where the Propecial sexual side effects lawsuits have been centralized before Judge Jessica R. Mayer in Middlesex County, as part of an MCL or Multicounty Litigation.
Propecia Sexual Dysfunction
Propecia (finasteride) is a prescription medication marketed by Merck to help men restore natural hair loss that occurs with male pattern baldness.
While men generally take the medication to help improve their appearance and overall quality of life, allegations raised in complaints brought against the drug maker allege that users have been left with permanent sexual problems from Propecia, such as erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, genital shrinkage and problems with cognition.
Propecia was originally developed by Merck as an enlarged prostate treatment and marketed as Proscar in 1992. It was later approved to treat male pattern baldness, when it was given the name Propecia.
Although the medication does not treat any disease or combat any health risk, Propecia became a top seller for Merck, amid aggressive marketing that encouraged men with male-pattern baldness to seek the prescription from their doctors.
According to allegations raised in the complaints, Merck has failed to adequately warn consumers or the medical community about the link between Propecia and sexual dysfunction, which may continue long after the medication is no longer used. Prior warning information provided by the drug maker suggested that any users who experienced problems had the sexual issues resolve after the medication was discontinued.
Even after many men reported experiencing permanent sexual issues after Propecia use, Merck continued to provide information suggesting that the problems were temporary until the Propecia warning label was updated in April 2012.