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Next Testosterone Lawsuit Over Androgel Set for Trial to Begin May 7

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After being hit by a federal jury with a $3.2 million verdict in a testosterone lawsuit over Androgel a few weeks ago, AbbVie faces another bellwether trial set to begin early next month. 

The cases are part of an on-going series of early “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout thousands of Androgel lawsuits pending in the federal court system.

Each of the claims raise similar allegations that AbbVie failed to adequately warn about the risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots associated with side effects of the testosterone gel.

Given similar questions of fact and law raised in each case against AbbVie, as well as similar claims against the makers of competing testosterone replacement drugs, the federal litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois for coordinated discovery and management.

Early in the proceedings, Judge Kennelly established a bellwether program, starting with a series of early Androgel trials, since that drug is the most widely used testosterone treatment.

While the outcomes of these bellwether trials are not binding on other plaintiffs, they are being closely watched and may have a significant influence on eventual testosterone settlements that may avoid the need for more than 6,000 individual cases to go to trial nationwide.

On March 26, a federal jury indicated that AbbVie should be pay $200,000 in compensatory damages to a man who suffered a heart attack while using Androgel, as well as another $3 million in punitive damages designed to punish the drug maker for withholding information from consumers and the medical community.

In a case management order (PDF) issued on April 1, Judge Kennelly outlined the procedural rules for the next Androgel trial, which is set to begin on Monday, May 7.

The trial will involve a complaint filed by Arthur Myers (PDF), who suffered a bilateral pulmonary embolism in February 2008, which is alleges were caused by side effects of AndroGel. Myers, 49, at the time, did not have classical hypogonadism, but was prescribed AndroGel off-label due to perceived low levels of testosterone.

Based on experiences learned in prior bellwether trials, Judge Kennelly has limited the time allocated for the trial to a total of fifty-eight hours, not including jury selections. This suggests that the case will take fewer than 12 days to present.

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