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Viagra Skin Cancer Side Effects Led To Melanoma on Cheek, Leg, Lawsuit Claims

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The number of lawsuits filed nationwide over the link between Viagra and melanoma continue to grow, with one of the latest claims coming from a Florida couple who say that Viagra caused the deadly skin cancer to spread to multiple places on the husband’s body. 

In a complaint (PDF) filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on July 11, Arnold and Regina Mittler allege that Pfizer withheld information from consumers and the medical community about the potential Viagra skin cancer risk.

The couple indicates that Arnold Mittler began using Viagra for treatment of erectile dysfunction in 2002, at the recommendation of his doctor. Following years of use, Mittler was diagnosed with melanoma on his right cheek in May 2015, which the lawsuit claims was caused by side effects of Viagra. The aggressive skin cancer was subsequently discovered on his right leg as well, and he indicates that he will need to remain vigilant to check for return of the cancer for the rest of his life.

The case is one of several hundred Viagra melanoma lawsuits pending in courts nationwide, which each raise similar allegations that Pfizer knew or should have known use of the erectile dysfunction drug increases the risk of melanoma, yet failed to adequately warn men and doctors about the importance of monitoring for signs of skin changes while using Viagra.

“Pfizer purposefully downplayed, understated and outright ignored the melanoma related health hazards and risks associated with using Viagra,” the lawsuit filed by Mittler states. “Pfizer also deceived potential Viagra users by relaying positive information through the press, including testimonials from retired, popular U.S. politicians, while downplaying known adverse and serious health 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 widely marketed direct-to-consumers, encouraging men to ask their doctors for a prescription if they have trouble obtaining or maintaining an erection.

While the medication is widely believed to be safe by most users and doctors, independent studies released in recent years have found a link between Viagra and melanoma, suggesting that the erectile dysfunction drug may reduce the body’s ability to resist the spread of the skin cancer.

In the mounting Viagra litigation emerging in courts nationwide, plaintiffs allege that if Viagra skin cancer warnings had been provided, they may have avoided serious and sometimes fatal cases of melanoma by catching the condition earlier if warnings had been provided, or by electing not to use the prescription treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Given the similar questions of fact and law raised in lawsuits over Viagra filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) recently established consolidated pretrial proceedings, centralizing all cases 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.

The Mittlers’ 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 plaintiffs whose cases are 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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