Motion Filed to Centralize All Testosterone Lawsuits, Not Just Androgel

Following a request filed last month to consolidate all federal Androgel lawsuits as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, a second motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) asking that all testostereone treatment lawsuits be centralized before one judge as a single coordinated proceeding.

There are currently more than 50 product liability lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country on behalf of men who allege that they suffered a heart attack, stroke, blood clot or other injury that was allegedly caused by side effects of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

While most of the current cases involve use of Androgel, which is the most widely used testosterone treatment, other claims have been filed by users of different testosterone gels, creams and patches, including Testim, Axiron, Androderm and others.

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On April 11, a Motion to Transfer (PDF) was filed by Rafael Barrios and his wife Connie Barrios, asking that one centralized proceeding be established for claims involving all different manufacturers of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Barrios indicates that his injury occurred following use of both Androgel and Testim, which are two different products made by different drug makers.

The request comes a little more than two weeks after another group plaintiffs filed a motion to centralize all AndroGel lawsuits as part of an MDL, which would be limited to cases brought by users of that testosterone gel product.

According to a Notice of Hearing Session (PDF) filed by the U.S. JPML earlier this week, oral arguments on the motion to establish an Androgel MDL will be heard on May 29 in Chicago. It is unclear whether the second motion to include all testosterone lawsuits as part of a single MDL will also be considered at the same time, or whether that motion will be heard at a future session in July 2014.

Out of the 50 testosterone cases currently pending, at least 37 of the lawsuits involve Androgel injuries. However, all of the claims involve similar allegations that the manufacturers failed to adequately warn about the risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and death associated with testosterone replacement therapy.

As additional cases continue to be reviewed and filed by testosterone injury lawyers, it is ultimately expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of Androgel lawsuits, Axiron lawsuits, Testim lawsuits and AndroDerm lawsuits will be filed by men throughout the United States.

According to the motion filed by Barrios, all of the cases filed against various different manufacturers of testosterone gels, creams and patches involve nearly identical allegations that the manufacturers misrepresented that their products are safe and effective, while understating the risk of heart problems from testosterone treatments.

“The transfer of the [related testosterone cases] to the same court for consolidated or coordinated proceedings is appropriate here because common questions of law and fact exist, and consolidation or coordination before one court will ensure efficient management of the litigation and avoid duplicative discovery,” Barrios argues in the motion, which seeks to centralize the testosterone drug litigation in Eastern District of Louisiana.

Low Testosterone Lawsuits

All of the lawsuits come following a series of studies published in recent months that raised concerns about the link between testosterone and heart attacks.

In January 2014, a study was published in the medical journal PLOSOne, 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.

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

In response to the findings, the FDA launched a safety review of AndroGel and other testosterone replacement therapy on January 31, leading to multiple media reports about the potential risk and lawyers advertising for potential claims.

The complaints involve allegations that the manufacturers essentially created the “disease” of low testosterone among men, blaming everything from fatigue to grumpiness on “Low T.” However, originally, the testosterone drugs were approved by the FDA to treat medically discernable low testosterone levels caused by a medical condition, such as hypogonadism. The condition was at first estimated to affect only about a million men in the U.S., but now the pharmaceutical industry estimates a 20 million man market for testosterone drugs.

Centralizing the cases before one judge is designed to reduce the risk of duplicative discovery that is likely to occur in hundreds of similar cases and to avoid conflicting rulings from different judges. Following pretrial proceedings and a series of test trials in the MDL, if the parties fail to reach testosterone settlement agreements to resolve a large number of cases, individual claims may ultimately be remanded back to the U.S. District Courts throughout the country where they were originally filed for separate trials.

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