Low Testosterone Drug Lawsuits Reach 2,000 in MDL

A growing number of Androgel lawsuits, Testim lawsuits, Axiron lawsuits and other lawsuits over injuries allegedly caused by side effects of low testosterone drugs continue to be filed, with nearly 2,000 claims currently pending throughout the federal court system.

Since June 2014, all low testosterone drug lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide have been consolidated as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), with the cases centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

According to the latest case list (PDF) released by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on July 15, there are currently at least 1,975 product liability lawsuits pending before Judge Kennelly involving testosterone replacement therapy.

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Each of the complaints raises similar allegation, claiming that inadequate warnings were provided about the risk that men may suffer a heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism or other serious injury following use of low testosterone drugs. In addition, the lawsuits claim that the drug makers recklessly marketed the medications to men who were experiencing natural drops in testosterone levels, which do not require treatment.

Status Conference in Testosterone Litigation

The parties involved in the testosterone litigation are scheduled to meet with Judge Kennelly today for a status conference, at which time the Court will discuss the status of discovery, including the production of custodial files and the creation of a defense fact sheet.

As part of the coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, a small group of Androgel cases are being prepared for early trial dates. Since AbbVie’s low testosterone drug is the most widely used product involved in the litigation, a series of six Androgel trials have been scheduled to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout other cases.

According to a joint status report (PDF) submitted in advance of the conference today, plaintiffs are calling for AbbVie to step up production of custodial files in the litigation. The parties are also expected to review with the Court the creation of a defense fact sheet that AbbVie would be required to complete for each case, as well as protocols for those fact sheets. Plaintiffs are urging manufacturers to turn over sales call notes linked to the marketing of testosterone drugs.

“The claims at issue in this litigation, including those implicating off-label marketing and fraud, are expected to be heavily dependent on call notes. The call notes will describe the conversations and communications by and between AbbVie drug sales representatives and the thousands of doctors that prescribed AndrGel,” the plaintiffs noted in the status report. “This MDL involves extraordinary allegations regarding the invention of a fake disease by the marketing department and the subsequent promotion by sales representatives of that off-label use. These claims are, in many respects, dependent on the content of the communications made to the physicians who prescribed the drug.”

By October 31, the plaintiffs and defendants are expected to select eight AndroGel cases dealing with thromboembolism injuries and eight cardiovascular injury cases for bellwether discovery. By March 1, 2016, the court expects to choose three thromboembolism cases and three heart attack cases to go to trial. Individual trial dates for the three thromboembolism cases have been scheduled to begin October 31, 2016, December 5, 2016 and January 9, 2017. The three cases involving cardiovascular injuries are scheduled to begin on February 13, 2017, March 20, 2017 and April 24, 2017.

While the outcomes of these early trial dates are not binding on other cases, they may influence eventual Androgel settlement negotiations. Following the bellwether process, if AbbVie or other manufacturers fails to resolve large numbers of cases, they may face hundreds of individual trial dates for low testosterone drug lawsuits spread throughout the country.

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