A Chicago jury this week ordered Illinois drug maker AbbVie to pay more than $3 million in damages to a man who suffered a heart attack after years of using its testosterone replacement therapy drug AndroGel.
The victory comes after the second trial of the man’s case, after he was initially awarded more than $150 million last year, only to have the decision overturned by the judge for being excessive.
And, it marks the third time in four AndroGel lawsuit trials so far that victims have been awarded large verdicts.
Now, with thousands of testosterone therapy cases still pending, experts are wondering if the drug maker will be forced to agree to a settlement, as have other manufacturers.
$3 Million Award for Testosterone Therapy Heart Attack
According to court filings, Oregon resident Jesse Mitchell used AndroGel for approximately 5 years before he suffered a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, in 2012. He was hospitalized and required treatment for several months, but eventually recovered.
He filed a case, as did thousands of other victims, after research surfaced showing popular testosterone replacement therapy drugs, or TRTs, could increase the risks of heart attacks or strokes in many patients.
Last July, a jury in the same court found that AbbVie had falsely marketed AndroGel, but they refused to say the drug caused Mitchell’s injuries. Still, they awarded him $150 million in punitive damages.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly overturned the award in December, calling it logically incompatible since the jury didn’t award any compensatory damages. He ordered a new trial to take place, which started this month.
This time, the jury decided that AbbVie was not strictly liable, nor had it falsely marketed AndroGel, but had acted negligently. They awarded Mitchell $200,000 in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages.
Studies Show Testosterone Therapy Heart, Stroke Risks
The risks of TRT drugs were first highlighted in 2014, when the American Medical Association warned that men over age 65 who used them faced a 30 percent higher chance of heart attacks, stroke or death.
A subsequent study from UCLA found that certain male patients may have twice the risk of heart attacks from using testosterone drugs.
The FDA then recommended new warnings for TRT drugs to advise of the risks, and the European Medicines Agency suggested their use be limited.
At the time, the TRT market was worth an estimated $2 billion in the United States, and many critics pointed out that manufacturers were aggressively marketing the drugs to older men who didn’t actually have the conditions for which they were designed.
Some of the more popular brand name TRT drugs include AndroGel, Axiron, Testim and AndroDerm.
The most popular of these by far, however, is AndroGel, which is available in a gel form that is applied externally instead of having to take any oral medication.
Thousands of TRT Lawsuits Filed in Federal MDL Court
As word spread of the possible risks with TRT drugs, thousands of patients who’d suffered heart attacks or stroke came forward, as did those who’d lost a loved one from death.
The shear volume of cases required that they be consolidated to one dedicated court for faster handling, and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation created MDL 2545, In Re: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability Litigation.
This federal court, which is presided over by U.S. District Judge Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois, has seen 7,675 testosterone injury lawsuits filed as of the writing of this article, and more than 6,200 are still awaiting trial.
Other manufacturers of TRT drugs, like GlaxoSmithKline, Endo International and Eli Lilly, have reported they are in the process of paying testosterone lawsuit settlements to those who’ve filed cases for injury or death.
However, AbbVie, whose AndroGel is the market leader in the testosterone replacement arena, has not agreed to any settlements yet and still faces more than 4,000 lawsuits.
Even now, lawyers are still helping those who suffered heart or stroke injury from TRT drugs file new lawsuits. However, the time before a settlement restricts new cases may be limited.
For more information on TRT drugs, the research surrounding their dangers, recent litigation news, or to speak directly with a lawyer about your case, contact DrugNews today.
Bellon, T. US Jury orders Abbvie to pay 3 million in AndroGel Retrial. Reuters. (March 26, 2018). Retrieved from www.reuters.com
Raymond, N. US Judge tosses verdict against AbbVie in AndroGel case. Reuters. (December 22, 2018). Retrieved from www.reuters.com
Distribution of pending MDL Dockets by District. JPML. (March 15, 2018). Retrieved from www.jpml.uscourts.gov
Last summer, the Department of Justice unveiled the details of an ongoing lawsuit and resulting settlement against industrial giant 3M, claiming the company had furnished defective combat earplugs to millions of U.S. troops serving around the world.