Lawyers Reappointed to Leadership Roles in Testosterone Therapy MDL

As the federal testosterone therapy litigation continues into it’s second full year, the U.S. District Judge presiding over all claims filed by men throughout the United States has reappointed a group of plaintiffs’ attorneys to serve in leadership positions for an additional one-year term.

There are currently about 2,500 Androgel lawsuits, Testim lawsuits, Axiron lawsuits and other testosterone therapy lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, which are consolidated before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois, as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation.

The testosterone therapy MDL was established in June 2014, consolidating cases throughout the country to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the lawsuits, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

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Judge Kennelly originally appointed a group of 33 testosterone lawyers to serve in leadership roles in the litigation in August 2014. These attorneys have been taking various steps throughout the discovery and pretrial litigation that benefit all plaintiffs who are pursuing a case against the manufacturers of testosterone replacement therapy products.

In a case management order (PDF) issued on September 18, Judge Kennelly re-appointed three attorneys who are serving as co-lead counsel in the litigation, a group of seven attorneys to serve on a Plaintiff’s Executive Committee and 22 attorneys to serve on a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

Testosterone Litigation Status

The order comes as the discovery process continues to move forward in the testosterone therapy MDL, with the parties preparing for the first bellwether trials, which are expected to begin next year.

According to a Joint Status Report (PDF) issued before a conference with Judge Kennelly last week, the parties have selected 100 Androgel-only cases to serve as a pool from which 32 discovery bellwether cases will be selected.

Each of the complaints raise similar allegations, claiming that the drug makers failed to adequately research the potential side effects of testosterone therapy, or warn about the increased risk of heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis that some men may face.

The litigation has emerged since the FDA warned in early 2014 that it was investigating a potential reviewing the cardiovascular risks among men taking any approved testosterone drugs. The FDA review was launched after several studies published identified a link between low testosterone drugs and heart attacks.

In November 2013, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested side effects of testosterone may increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death among older men with certain pre-existing heart problems.

This research was followed by a study published by the medical journal PLOSOne in January 2014, which found that low testosterone treatments may double the risk of heart attack for younger men with heart disease and men over the age of 65, regardless of their prior heart conditions.

It is expected that a series of six Androgel trials will go before juries between October 2016 and April 2017, to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. After those trials against AbbVie, it is expected that a second series of bellwether trials will be scheduled involving individuals who used other testosterone replacement therapy products.

While the outcomes of these trials will not be binding on other cases in litigation, they will be closely watched by lawyers involved in the lawsuits, and may influence eventual negotiations to settle testosterone therapy lawsuits.

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