Coordination Sought Between MDL and State Court AndroGel Lawsuits

During a status conference scheduled for tomorrow in the testosterone MDL, attorneys for AbbVie and Abbott Laboratories have asked the Court to review preliminary steps necessary to coordinate between the federal litigation and state court lawsuits involving AndroGel.

U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly is set to meet with lawyers involved in the testosterone litigation during an initial status conference on Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois, where case filed throughout the federal court system have been centralized to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and service the convenience of the parties, witnesses and courts.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established the consolidated proceedings before Judge Kennelly last month, including all AndroGel lawsuits, Testim lawsuits, Axiron lawsuits, AndroDerm lawsuits and other federal complaints involving injuries associated with testosterone replacement therapy, as they all involve common issues of fact and law.

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While there are currently only a few hundred testosterone lawsuits filed by individuals throughout the country, it is ultimately expected that the litigation will include thousands of cases.

Most of the complaints filed to date involve heart attacks and other injuries associated with the use of AbbVie and Abbott Laboratories’ AndroGel, which is the most widely used “low T” drug.

In a request (PDF) filed on July 8, AbbVie and Abbott asked Judge Kennelly to add the topic of state court coordination for AndroGel cases to the agenda for the Court’s July 10 status conference.

“There are a number of cases against AbbVie pending in different state courts that, like the cases in this MDL, allege personal injuries from using AndroGel. And, like the cases in this MDL, the state court cases against AbbVie are in the early stages of litigation,” the request notes. “Now is therefore the right time to begin laying the groundwork to coordinate these parallel sets of cases.”

All of the complaints involve similar allegations that AbbVie, Abbott and other drug manufacturers failed to adequately warn about the increased risk of users suffering heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and other cardiovascular injuries due to side effects of testosterone treatments.

AndroGel and Testosterone Heart Problems

The number of lawsuits filed throughout the country have increased at a rapid pace this year, following an FDA announcement issued on January 31, which indicated that the agency was reviewing the cardiovascular risks among men taking any approved testosterone drugs.

The FDA investigation was launched following several studies published in recent months involving the 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.

As part of the coordinated proceedings before Judge Kennelly, it is expected that a small number of cases will be selected as “bellwether” lawsuits, which will be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout the litigation. While the outcome of these early trials would not be binding on other cases, they may influence eventual testosterone settlement negotiations.

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