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District Judge Issues Update on Testosterone MDL

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On June 6, 2014, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) agreed to consolidate all federal testosterone lawsuits into one court in the Northern District of Illinois. Recently, District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly, who is overseeing the proceedings, met with attorneys on both sides to discuss the next steps in moving the litigation forward.

Court Moving Forward with Fact Sheets

According to a court update released September 15, 2014, there are currently just over 200 testosterone lawsuits pending in the MDL, though that number is expected to continue to rise. Plaintiffs claim that manufacturers of testosterone-replacement drugs failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks for heart attacks and strokes.

According to the minutes from the meeting between the judge and the attorneys, the parties are close to reaching agreements regarding the plaintiff fact sheets and a document preservation order. If they are unable to reach an agreement, they are to address the issues in their status reports at the next case management conference. The defendants have submitted motions to remand two cases, and regarding those, the judge ordered they show cause in writing by October 3, 2014.

A case management conference was scheduled for December 8, 2014, and January 12, 2015.

Consolidation Increases Efficiency

Patients who have suffered injuries as a result of drugs like AndroGel, Testim, and Axiron may be eligible to join the consolidated litigation. Though consolidation helps increase efficiency in pre-trial proceedings, reducing the risk of conflicting rulings and duplicative discovery, each case remains an individual claim.

As the MDL progresses, it is likely that certain cases will be chosen as “bellwether” trials, in which the outcome will be used to estimate how other cases may be likely to proceed. Such cases may encourage settlement talks between the plaintiffs and defendants in other cases, depending on how juries react to the evidence.

Studies and the FDA Warn About Testosterone Heart Attacks

It was in January 2014 that PLoS One published a key study concerning testosterone replacements. Scientists found that in older men, and in younger men with heart disease, the drugs increased risk of heart attack. Just a couple days later, the FDA released a safety communication warning doctors and the public that they were investigating the cardiovascular risks in men taking testosterone products, and urged healthcare professionals to review the reported side effects.

In February 2014, consumer watchdog group Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to add a black box warning to all testosterone therapy drugs alerting users to the potential for heart attacks.