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Status of Testosterone Drug Injury Lawsuits to be Reviewed at MDL Status Conference

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Lawyers involved in the federal testosterone drug litigation are scheduled to meet today with the U.S. District Judge presiding over the cases, to review the status of the lawsuits and discovery, as a small group of Androgel lawsuits are being prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout thousands of cases.

There are currently nearly 5,600 testosterone drug injury lawsuits pending in the federal court system, which are all centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois, as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation. Each of the claims involve similar allegations that the drug makers failed to adequately warn men and the medical community that the drugs may increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism or wrongful death.

While most of the cases involve injuries caused by side effects of Androgel, which was the most widely used testosterone drug, cases have also been filed over problems with Axiron, Testim, Androderm and other gels, patches, creams and injections designed to provide testosterone replacement therapy.

As part of the coordinated proceedings in the MDL, Judge Kennelly previously established a “bellwether” process, where a small group of cases filed against AbbVie, the makers of Androgel, are being prepared for early trial dates, which are expected to go before federal juries over the Summer and Fall of 2017.

While the outcomes of these Androgel bellwether trials will not be binding on other claims, they are being closely watched by testosterone drug injury lawyers, as they may influence negotiations to settle cases with the drug makers.

The parties are scheduled to meet with Judge Kennelly today for a status conference, at which time it is expected that the Court will review the status of discovery, including the exchange of corporate files, depositions of employees, sales representatives and doctors, as the growing number of claims filed by men throughout the U.S.

According to a joint report (PDF) filed on May 17, the parties indicate that the bellwether discovery process is moving forward as planned, with 22 of 24 plaintiff depositions already taken, and the remaining two expected to be completed by June 10. However, only five depositions of the approximately 50 treating or prescribing doctor depositions have been taken, and only 14 of the 41 sales representative depositions have been scheduled, with the first to occur today. AbbVie has produced all 41 of the sales representatives files requested.

The discovery process has led to plaintiffs requesting files on 77 additional sales representatives, but AbbVie indicates that it only has filed for 24 of them.

A series of six cases are expected to go to trial next year involving Androgel injuries, and those cases will be filed by a second series of bellwether trials involving other testosterone drugs.

If the manufacturers fail to reach testosterone drug injury settlements or otherwise resolve the litigation, thousands of individual cases may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts throughout the country for separate trial dates.

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