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AbbVie Seeks Coordination Between State and Federal Testosterone Lawsuits

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Now that all federal testosterone lawsuits have been consolidated in the Northern District of Illinois, lawmakers are seeking coordination between state courts and the new MDL.

Testosterone replacement therapy manufacturers AbbVie and Abbott Laboratories (AndroGel) requested the federal court discuss in the July 2014 status conference how all parties may best coordinate proceedings with state courts. Such coordination can help reduce duplicative discovery, conserve resources, and help decrease the possibility of conflicting rulings.

As Litigation Grows, Coordination Becomes Critical

The FDA warned about the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death in men taking testosterone replacement drugs at the beginning of this year (2014). Since then, many plaintiffs who suffered serious injuries allegedly as a result of taking testosterone therapy have filed testosterone lawsuits in both federal and state court.

As the number of cases increased, plaintiffs petitioned the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate all federal lawsuits into one court for more efficient pre-trial proceedings. The JPML agreed and ordered the transfer of all federal cases to Illinois on June 6, 2014.

On July 8, 2014, AbbVie and Abbot requested the topic of coordination between state and federal courts be included on the agenda for the July 10, 2014 MDL status conference. They noted that such coordination is key to the effective management of complex litigation, and that now is the time to begin working on it since most cases are in the early stages of litigation.

“Coordinating this MDL with the state court cases against AbbVie will be more convenient and efficient for the parties and witnesses,” the defendants noted in their request. “Coordinating all of the cases, including the discovery schedule and plan, will eliminate unnecessary duplication of efforts and save the parties and their counsel unnecessary expense.”

As part of their proposal for coordination, AbbVie recommended that both parties work together to create a comprehensive list of all state cases, and that the federal court seek direct communication with state courts.

Plaintiffs Claim Drug Makers Failed to Provide Adequate Warnings

Plaintiffs filing claims filed against AbbVie, Abbott, and other manufacturers of testosterone products have similar allegations, with most arguing that the companies provided inadequate warnings about the risks associated with their products, and failed to conduct adequate safety testing before launching the drugs on the market.

Two major scientific studies published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and PLoS One indicated an association between testosterone therapy and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.