A new multidistrict litigation has been established in Illinois for all federally-filed testosterone lawsuit claims, according to an Order issued last Friday by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). The new litigation has been established in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, where Abbott Labs and AbbVie, Inc. – the manufacturers of AndroGel – are headquartered.
Though the majority of lawsuits filed thus far involve AndroGel, the federal litigation will include all product liability claims against the manufacturers of testosterone therapy products. The JPML found that an industry-wide proceeding made the most sense, as many lawsuits involve more than one drug. U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly will preside over the litigation, as he has already been overseeing AndroGel lawsuits filed in that jurisdiction in a coordinated manner.
The JPML’s Order transfers 49 testosterone therapy lawsuits to the Northern District of Illinois, all of which allege that drugs like AndroGel caused men to suffer heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening cardiovascular events. At least 50 additional claims are pending in federal courts that could also be eligible for transfer, while plaintiffs asserted that thousands of additional filings are likely.
Testosterone therapy medications are approved to treat low testosterone levels in men who experience the condition because of other medical issues. According to a report from Bloomberg.com, the drugs accumulated a combined $1.9 billion in sales last year. Testosterone lawsuits claims that these sales were driven by marketing that positioned the medications as a remedy for age-related low testosterone and accompanying symptoms, including low libido and fatigue. The lawsuits further allege that these marketing tactics have caused many men to use testosterone replacement therapy, even though they have no medical reason to do so.
The consolidation of the testosterone lawsuits will help the claims to move more efficiently through the court. Among other things, they will be subjected to coordinated discovery and motions practice in order to avoid duplication and inconsistent court rulings. Multidistrict litigations are used when a large number of lawsuits are expected to be filed that involve similar products and questions of fact.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began investigating the cardiovascular risks associated with low testosterone therapy in January 2014, following the publication of studies that raised concerns about the entire class of medications. The FDA review continues, and the agency has yet to reach any conclusions.