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Viagra Lawsuit Filed Over Skin Lesions, Melanoma Diagnosis

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According to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit filed last week against Pfizer, a Florida man was forced to have skin lesions cut from his back in order to halt the spread of melanoma caused by side effects of Viagra.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Jody Fyfe, and is one of a growing number of similar claims brought against the drug maker by men throughout the U.S., claiming that Pfizer knew or should have known about the link between Viagra and melanoma, yet withheld information from consumers and the medical community.

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.

Fyfe claims that he received a melanoma diagnosis in April 2012, after starting to use Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction in January 2012. As a result of the use of Viagra, skin lesions had to be excised from his back in May 2012, and Fyfe indicates that he will have to remain vigilant for the rest of his life in case melanoma reoccurs in his body.

“Unbeknownst to most Viagra users, and omitted from the slew of advertising proliferated by Defendant, recent studies have shown that the cellular activity providing the mechanism of action for Viagra may also be associated with the development and/or exacerbation of melanoma,” states the complaint filed on April 21. “Several studies have linked the mechanism of action for Viagra to cell mutation cultivating melanomagenesis, or the creation of melanocytes which develop into melanoma.”

Fyfe raises allegations similar to those brought in other Viagra melanoma lawsuits filed by men throughout the U.S.

With a growing number of complaints being filed in courts throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings earlier this month, centralizing all Viagra 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.

Fyfe’s lawsuit is expected to be transferred into the Viagra MDL for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, which is expected to include a series of “bellwether” trials 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 Fyfe 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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