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Viagra Lawsuit Filing Procedure for Melanoma Cases in MDL Streamlined

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As a growing number of Viagra melanoma lawsuits continue to be filed against Pfizer throughout the federal court system, the U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over the litigation has established a procedure that allows new claims be filed directly into the multidistrict litigation (MDL), minimizing delays and promoting judicial efficiency. 

Earlier this year, a federal Viagra MDL was established, resulting in the transfer of about 80 different product liability lawsuits pending nationwide to the Northern District of California, where U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg is coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. However, as Viagra injury lawyers continue to review and file claims for men nationwide, it is widely expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of claims will be filed in the coming months and years.

Each of the claims raise similar allegations that Pfizer failed to adequately warn men or the medical community that Viagra side effects could cause or promote the spread of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

To increase efficiency and avoid the delays associated with transferring cases from U.S. District Courts nationwide to the Northern District of California, Judge Seeborg issued a pretrial order (PDF) on August 10, which permits lawyers to file lawsuits directly into the Viagra MDL.

“To promote judicial efficiency and eliminate delays associated with the transfer to this Court of cases filed in or removed to other federal district courts, any Plaintiff whose case would be subject to transfer to MDL No. 2691 may file his or her case directly into MDL No. 2691 in the Northern District of California, San Francisco,” Judge Seeborg ruled.

The Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee has been ordered to file a Master Complaint on or before September 9, which will allow future plaintiffs to file abbreviated Short Form complaints that indicate which allegations are being adopted. The cases can be filed directly in Judge Seeborg’s court, avoiding delay in transferring the claims for other districts.

Viagra Melanoma Side Effects

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.

Since its approval, Viagra has been prescribed to an estimated 35 million men, and is generally considered safe by most consumers. However, recent studies suggest that the medication may reduce the body’s ability to resist the spread of melanoma.

The Viagra skin cancer litigation 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 knew or should have known about the Viagra 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.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings before Judge Seeborg, it is expected that a small group of representative Viagra lawsuits will be selected for a series of “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be presented throughout the claims.

While the outcomes of these cases will not be binding on other claims, they may influence eventual negotiations with Pfizer to reach Viagra melanoma settlements. However, if the drug maker fails to settle or resolve the litigation following the MDL proceedings, each case may be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date.

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