Viagra Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Stage IV Melanoma Diagnosis

A wrongful death lawsuit filed against Pfizer this week alleges that side effects of Viagra caused a California man to develop stage IV melanoma.

The complaint (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on March 26, indicating that the 2012 death of Lloyd Rosenwein was caused by Pfizer’s failure to properly disclose the melanoma risk associated with Viagra.

According to the lawsuit, Rosenwein began taking Viagra for treatment of erectile dysfunction in 2011, when his physician recommended the prescription drug. Rosenwein continued to fill his Viagra prescriptions through at least September 2012, and he died in October 2012.

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During an autopsy performed following Rosenwein’s death, he was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma after an examination revealed the presence of the cancer in his lungs. The Viagra wrongful death lawsuit alleges that if Pfizer had warned about the risk of melanoma, Rosenwein would have avoided the risk by not using the medication or more closely monitoring for signs of skin cancer on Viagra.

“Pfizer purposefully downplayed, understated and outright ignored the melanoma-related health hazards and risks associated with using Viagra,” the lawsuit claims. “Pfizer concealed material information related to melanoma development from potential Viagra users.”

Similar claims have been raised in other Viagra melanoma lawsuits filed against Pfizer since the publication of a study in April 2013, which suggested that men using the medication face an increased risk of being diagnosed with the serious and potentially deadly form of skin cancer.

Viagra Skin Cancer Risks

Viagra (sildenafil citrate) was introduced by Pfizer in 1998, and it has become one of the most widely recognized medications in the United States, used by millions of men to treat impotence and sexual dysfunction, including the inability to develop or maintain an erection.

Pfizer reported that Viagra generated $1.8 billion in revenue worldwide in 2013, and the drug has been prescribed to an estimated 35 million men since its 1998 approval. However, recent studies suggest that the medication may reduced the body’s ability to resist the spread of melanoma, a serious and potentially fatal form of skin cancer.

In 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.

Rosenwein’s estate is pursuing claims against Pfizer for negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, gross negligence, and violation of New York consumer protection laws. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

As Viagra lawyers continue to review additional claims for men throughout the United States diagnosed with melanoma, it is ultimately expected that several hundred may be filed by men throughout the U.S.

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