MDL Sought for Viagra Melanoma Lawsuits Filed in Federal Court System

With a growing number of men throughout the U.S. filing product Viagra lawsuits after developing melanoma skin cancer, a motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation seeking to centralize the cases before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Pfizer currently faces at least 15 complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, each involving similar allegations that the drug maker failed to provide adequate warnings for men and the medical community about the potential side effects of Viagra, which studies have suggested may increase the risk of men developing melanoma after using the erectile dysfunction drug.

In a motion to transfer (PDF) filed on December 11, a group of plaintiffs ask that cases pending throughout the federal court system be consolidated in one court as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues raised in the claims, avoid contradictory rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

“To date, multiple individuals have filed similar suits against [Pfizer]. Each of these actions assert virtually identical claims that the same Defendant, for the same injury, caused by the same drug, i.e. Viagra,” wrote plaintiffs in the motion. “Significantly, these filed cases represent only a small sample of the cases that are expected to be filed against Defendant by individuals who have developed melanoma subsequent to taking Viagra.”

Plaintiffs argue that the Viagra litigation should be centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard G. Seeborg in the Northern District of California, since five cases are already pending in that court and Judge Seeborg is presiding over three of them.

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 in 1998, 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 reduced the body’s ability to resist the spread of melanoma.

As early as 2011, a study was published in the medical journal Cancer Cell which warned that Viagra could 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.

Public attention was not brought to the skin cancer risks from Viagra until a study published last year in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine. 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.

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 Viagra melanoma lawyers continue to review and file additional lawsuits for men diagnosed with the aggressive form of skin cancer, it is ultimately expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of similar complaints will be brought in courts throughout the United States.

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