The federal court overseeing thousands of testosterone treatment lawsuits is preparing to try a series of cases involving Androderm, a transdermal patch marketed by Actavis Pharmaceuticals.
According to a Case Management Order issued in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, on April 10th, the parties have selected 30 Androderm lawsuits – dubbed Actavis Work-Up Group 1 by the Court – to be prepared for early bellwether trial dates in February and March 2019.
The Court had previously ordered that a total of 100 Actavis lawsuits be prepped for early trial dates. The parties are to select a second group of cases by May 15th, while a third group must be submitted to the Court by September 29th.
Testosterone plaintiffs throughout the country will be monitoring the Androderm bellwether trials closely, as the verdicts in these cases could provide insight into how other juries might decide similar testosterone lawsuits.
Androderm and other prescription testosterone medications are only approved to treat hypogonadism, or low testosterone secondary to another injury or medical condition. They have never been proven safe or effective in relieving symptoms associated with age-related testosterone depletion.
In March 2015, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ordered testosterone manufacturers to update their product labels with information regarding an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. Several months later, the labels were modified yet again to include a general warning regarding a risk of venous thromboembolism, a class of venous blood clots that include deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
The Northern District of Illinois houses more than 6,500 testosterone lawsuits filed against the manufacturers of Androderm, AndroGel and other drugs in this class. Plaintiffs involved in the litigation claim that Actavis and other defendants were aware of the dangerous cardiovascular side effects associated with their products and failed to provide doctors and patients with adequate warning of these risks.
Plaintiffs further charge that sales of prescription testosterone treatments were driven by marketing claims that falsely characterized the low testosterone levels normally experienced by aging men as an “epidemic” and a “syndrome” called “Low-T” that required treatment.
The federal testosterone litigation has already completed several bellwether trials involving other medications. Last month, for example, an Illinois jury awarded $200,000 in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages to an AndroGel heart attack plaintiff.
Another heart attack victim was awarded $140 million in August, after the jury hearing that case determined that AbbVie, Inc. had misrepresented AndroGel’s safety.
In January, another testosterone jury returned a verdict for AbbVie.
In January, Eli Lilly & Co., announced it had tentatively agreed to settle all Axiron lawsuits pending in the federal testosterone litigation. The following month, Endo Pharmaceuticals, its Auxilium subsidiary and GlaxoSmithKline proposed a testosterone settlement that could ultimately resolve some 1,300 lawsuits involving Testim and other drugs.
Details of the proposed settlements have not been disclosed. However, stays have been ordered in all of the affected cases to facilitate the ongoing negotiations.