Status of Viagra, Cialis Viagra Lawsuits to be Reviewed During Case Management Conference

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Viagra lawsuits and Cialis lawsuits is set to meet with attorneys this week for a case management conference, to review a bellwether trial schedule and the status of on-going litigation for claims brought on behalf of men diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer following use of the popular erectile dysfunction drugs.

There are currently about 865 product liability lawsuits pending against manufacturers of the drugs, each raising similar claims that consumers and the medical community were not adequately warned that side effects of Viagra and Cialis may increase the risk of developing the severe, and often life-threatening, form of skin cancer.

Given similar questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed throughout the federal court system, the litigation is centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in the Northern District of California as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different Courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

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Side Effects of Viagra Linked to Risk of Melanoma Skin Cancer

As the litigation continues to move forward, Judge Seeborg is scheduled to meet with parties for a case management conference tomorrow. According to a proposed joint agenda (PDF) submitted on October 9, it is expected that the Court will be provided an update on the general litigation status, progress of discovery, a plan for bellwether cases and a briefing proposal for challenges to the admissibility of expert witnesses.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, it is expected that Judge Seeborg will hold a series of early bellwether trials, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

In advance of the case management conference, the parties also submitted an agreed-upon pretrial order that would govern the completion and execution of Plaintiff Fact Sheets and other matters related to the selection of cases for these bellwether trials, including case specific-discovery for document production and the release of plaintiffs’ records.

Melanoma Side Effects of Viagra and Cialis

Viagra (sildenafil citrate) was introduced by Pfizer in 1998, and it has become one of the most widely recognized brand-name medications on the market in the United States, used by millions of men to treat impotence and sexual dysfunction, including the inability to develop or maintain an erection.

Cialis (tadalafil) is a similar erectile dysfunction drug introduced in 2003, which also become a blockbuster treatment amid aggressive direct-to-consumer advertisements.

Although the drugs are widely prescribed and believed to be safe, recent studies suggest that Viagra and Cialis may reduce the body’s ability to resist the spread of melanoma. Plaintiffs maintain that if they had been warned about the risk, they may have detected the cancer earlier or avoided a diagnosis by avoiding the drugs.

The Viagra melanoma cases began to emerge after a study was published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine in April 2014, in which researchers from Harvard Medical School found that men who took Viagra were 84% more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than men who do not use the drug.

Plaintiffs allege that Pfizer and Eli Lilly knew or should have known about the melanoma skin cancer risk for years, indicating that studies published as early as 2011 suggested that the erectile dysfunction drug may promote melanoma cell invasion.

Another study published in the Journal of Cell Biochemistry in 2012 also found that PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra could exacerbate melanoma development.

The American Cancer Society indicates that melanoma is diagnosed in about 69,000 Americans each year and causes about 8,650 deaths annually. The skin cancer usually manifests as unusual moles or patches of skin. While it is often curable if caught early, once melanoma has spread beyond the skin and local lymph nodes, treatment is difficult and it may ultimately result in death.

While the outcome for any early bellwether trials will not be binding on other plaintiffs, the cases will be closely watched and may influence eventual negotiations to reach Viagra and Cialis settlements that will be necessary to avoid the need for hundreds of individual trial dates to be set nationwide.

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