More Than 400 Lawsuits Filed Over Propecia Sexual Side Effects

Merck now faces more than 400 Propecia lawsuits in state and federal courts throughout the country alleging that users of the hair loss drug suffered severe sexual dysfunction and other side effects. 

Propecia (finasteride) has been aggressively marketed by Merck as a prescription medication 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, a mounting number of former users are continuing to step forward and file lawsuits after developing severe and permanent sexual problems from Propecia, such as erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, genital shrinkage and problems with cognition.

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According to recent court records, there are at least 140 lawsuits over Propecia filed in the federal court system, which have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, as part of an MDL or “multidistrict litigation”. At least another 261 cases are pending in New Jersey state court, where the claims have also been centralized before one judge for coordinated proceedings as part of an “multi-county litigation”, or MCL.

Propecia Lawsuits Allege Failure to Warn

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.

Although a number of men began to develop sexual side effects after taking the medication, the warning label provided by Merck suggested for many years that any such issues were temporary and resolve once the medication is discontinued.

In early 2011, evidence began to emerge to support what many men where experiencing, indicating that Propecia sexual problem could be permanent.

According to allegations raised in complaints filed in courts throughout the country, Merck knew or should have known about the risk of these long-lasting sexual problems, and failed to provide accurate warnings to users or the medical community.

Some of the lawsuits claim that the rate of sexual dysfunction has been found to affect as many as 39%  of Propecia users. The lawsuits also point to a 2003 study, which found that only 50% of patients saw sexual problems dissipate after they discontinued using Propecia, despite information provided for many years on the Merck warning label.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized the federal Propecia litigation in April 2012, consolidating all cases as part of an MDL before U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in New York. The New Jersey cases have been centralized before Superior Court Judge Jessica R. Mayer in Middlesex County.

In April 2012, the FDA required Merck to add an update to the Propecia warning label, indicating that sexual issues reported by some men persist even after the drug is discontinued.

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