Melanoma Lawsuit Over Viagra Filed By Man Who Required Surgical Removal of Arm Lesions

According to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit recently filed in New York, side effects of Viagra caused a man to develop melanoma, requiring surgical removal of lesions from his arm to prevent the spread of the deadly form of skin cancer.

The complaint (PDF) was filed against Pfizer bby Delbert Smith on May 20, indicating that the drug maker knew or should have known about the melanoma risk associated with Viagra, yet failed to adequately warn men and the medical community.

Smith indicates that he began taking Viagra for erectile dysfunction in January 2000, and continued using the medication until 2008. In May 2014, Smith was diagnosed with melanoma after discovering lesions on his left forearm. He underwent surgery in June 2014 to have the lesions removed, but indicates that he must now remain ever vigilant for signs of the cancer’s return.

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Viagra (sildenafil citrate) was introduced by Pfizer in 1998, and it has become one of the most widely recognized brand-name medications on the market in the United States, used by millions of men to treat impotence and sexual dysfunction, including the inability to develop or maintain an erection.

Since its approval, Viagra has been prescribed to an estimated 35 million men, and is widely marketed direct-to-consumers, encouraging men to ask their doctors for a prescription if they have trouble obtaining or maintaining an erection. However, Smith’s lawsuit and other similar Viagra melanoma lawsuits filed in courts throughout the U.S. allege that Pfizer withheld information about the risk that the drug may reduce the body’s ability to resist the spread of skin cancer.

“Defendant purposefully downplayed, understated and outright ignored the melanoma-related health hazards and risks associated with using Viagra,” states the lawsuit filed by Smith in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. “Defendant also deceived potential Viagra users by relaying positive information through the press, including testimonials from retired popular U.S. politicians, while downplaying known adverse and serious health effects.”

Given the similar questions of fact and law raised in melanoma lawsuits over Viagra filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for the litigation in April, centralizing all cases before U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in the Northern District of California. The move is designed to reduce the risk of duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

Smith’s case will be included in the Viagra MDL, where it is expected that a small group of “bellwether” cases will be scheduled for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be offered throughout the claims.

While the outcomes of these early test trials will not be binding on Smith and other plaintiffs whose case is not selected to go before the first juries, they may help the parties negotiate Viagra melanoma settlements and avoid the need for hundreds of cases to go before juries throughout the U.S.

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