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The fast pace of bellwether trials for testosterone drug lawsuits will continue early next year, with at least two cases set for trial to begin in January 2018, one involving injuries associated with the use of Androgel that will start early in the month, and a second case involving injuries associated with Axiron set to start late in the month.
The lawsuits are part of an on-going series of early trial dates scheduled in the federal testosterone litigation, which includes more than 6,000 Androgel lawsuits, Testim lawsuits, Axiron lawsuits and other claims brought on behalf of individuals who suffered a heart attack, stroke, blood clot or other injuries after using the controversial drugs.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised by each plaintiff, the lawsuits 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).
To help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation, Judge Kennelly has established a bellwether program, where a number of individual claims against each major drug maker have been set to go to trial.
In July 2017, the first bellwether trial to reach a jury resulted in a $150 million punitive damage award against the makers of Androgel, indicating that AbbVie should be punished for their reckless disregard for the safety of users of their testosterone drug.
A second Androgel trial ended last month, resulting in another massive verdict against AbbVie, with $140 million in compensatory and punitive damages awarded to one plaintiff.
The first bellwether trial against Auxilium, over a heart attack allegedly caused by it’s Testim gel, began last week, and is expected to continue for at least another week.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on November 11, Judge Kennelly announced that the next trial will begin on January 8, involving a complaint (PDF) filed by Robert Nolte, and his wife, Genienne, against AbbVie, Inc. over the side effects of Androgel.
Nolte alleges that he suffered a pulmonary embolism and was hospitalized for several days in November 2012. He had only been using the testosterone replacement gel since June 2012, and argues that AndroGel is defective and unreasonably dangerous.
In addition, Judge Kennelly has also set a January 29 start date for a trial involving complaints over Eli Lilly’s Axiron. That case will either involve a complaint filed by Tracy Garner (PDF), of Alabama; or a lawsuit filed by John DeBroka, Jr. (PDF), of Florida.
Garner’s case indicates that Axiron side effects resulted in a heart attack, while DeBroka claims he suffered deep vein thrombosis due to his use of the testosterone replacement therapy drug.
Although the outcomes of these bellwether trials are not binding on other plaintiffs, they are being closely watched by parties involved, as they may influence eventual negotiations to reach testosterone drug settlements, which would avoid the need for thousands of individual cases to be set for trial in courts nationwide over the coming years.