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Lawsuit Alleges Viagra Caused Metastatic Melanoma In Man’s Lymph Nodes

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According to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit filed by a man diagnosed with metastatic melanoma following use of Viagra, Pfizer knew or should have known that it’s popular erectile dysfunction drug may increase the risk of skin cancer, yet failed to warn users in its aggressive marketing directed at consumers.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Gerald F. Grey in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on May 12, indicating that Viagra caused him to develop melanoma skin cancer that spread to his chest and lymph nodes.

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 widely marketed direct-to-consumers, encouraging men to ask their doctors for a prescription if they have trouble obtaining or maintaining an erection. However, the advertisements fail to disclose that side effects of Viagra may reduce the body’s ability to resist the spread of melanoma, according to the complaint filed by Grey.

“While designing and formulating Viagra, Pfizer discovered or should have discovered that the drug’s mechanism of action, the inhibition of PDE5, also presented a significant risk of the development and/or exacerbation of melanoma,” the lawsuit states. “Despite these significant findings, Pfizer has made no efforts in its ubiquitous Viagra advertisements to warn users about the potential risk of developing and/or exacerbating melanoma that has been scientifically linked to its drug.”

Grey indicates that he began taking Viagra in 2002, for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, and continued use through April 2016.

In March 2014, Grey was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, and he underwent a wide incision of his left chest wall. Biopsies of two sentinal lymph nodes from the left axilla indicated that metastatic cancer had spread to the lypmh nodes and he underwent left axillary lymph node dissection in August 2014.

The lawsuit indicates that he now has to remain vigilant in monitoring his skin for new lesions and must undergo routine check-ups to ensure that the melanoma does not return. Grey presents claims of negligence, failure to warn, defective design, breach of warranty, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, and negligent misrepresentation.

The case joins a number of similar Viagra melanoma lawsuits being pursued against Pfizer by men throughout the U.S., each raising similar allegations and claims.

In April, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for cases filed throughout the federal court system, centralizing all lawsuits before U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in the Northern District of California. The move is designed to reduce the risk of 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.

Grey’s case will be included in the Viagra MDL, where it is expected that a small group of “bellwether” cases will be scheduled for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be offered throughout the claims. While the outcomes of these early test trials will not be binding on Grey and other plaintiffs whose case is not selected to go before the first juries, they may help the parties negotiate Viagra melanoma settlements and avoid the need for hundreds of cases to go before juries throughout the U.S.

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