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Judge Appoints Leadership Counsel in Testosterone MDL

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In June 2014, all federal testosterone lawsuits were consolidated into one court in the Northern District of Illinois. Since then, the litigation has been growing, to the point that there are now about 2,500 cases pending. These cases involve claims concerning testosterone replacement products like AndroGel, Testim, and Axiron. Both parties are working toward the selection of a few bellwether trials, which are scheduled to begin in October 2016.

On September 18, 2015, the court released a case management order that designated attorneys who will serve in leadership roles throughout the rest of the litigation.

MDL Judge Appoints Plaintiffs’ Leadership Counsel

According to the order, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly re-appointed three attorneys to serve as plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel, seven as members of the plaintiffs’ executive committee (PEC), 22 as members of the plaintiffs’ steering committee (PSC), and two as plaintiffs’ co-liaison counsel. All appointments are made for a year, and will expire on August 15, 2016, with the opportunity for to apply for reappointment.

These are the attorneys who will lead the processes of discovery and pretrial litigation, and who will represent all plaintiffs in this MDL who are pursuing compensation for injuries allegedly caused by testosterone therapy products.

Court Has Chosen a Pool of 100 Cases for Bellwether Trial Selection

The court also issued a joint status report on September 15, 2015, which provides an update as to the progress the parties have made so far. AbbVie, for example, manufacturer of AndroGel, the most commonly named product in this MDL, has agreed to complete their production of the requested documents from PharmaDocs and other sources. The plaintiffs, on the other hand, state that AbbVie has delayed production of documents, and that they have also coached witnesses during depositions.

According to the update, of the initial nine potential AbbVie witness deponents requested for October and November, the parties have scheduled three for October and exchanged dates for the next 5 to be deposed in either November or December. One of the witnesses is a former employee of the defendant’s.

Other defendants, which include manufacturers Eli Lilly (Axiron), Auxilium (Testim), and Endo Pharmaceuticals (Fortesta), also state they are producing custodial files and scheduling depositions.

As to the bellwether selection process, the parties have randomly identified 100 cases among the 471 AndroGel-only cases (the only ones permitted for bellwether trials at this time) to serve as the pool for selection. From this pool the parties will eventually choose 32 cases to go forward.

The parties are also coordinating proceedings with those cases pending in state court, and note in this order that they’ve coordinated proposed dates for witness deponents with the Cook County state court litigants.

Plaintiffs Seek Compensation for Alleged Testosterone Therapy Injuries

Plaintiffs in these cases state that the defendants failed to conduct proper research studies on their products before releasing them on the market, and failed to provide adequate warnings about potential side effects like heart attacks and strokes.

The FDA warned in January 2014 that they were investigating testosterone replacement therapy products because of two major studies that indicated the drugs could increase risk of cardiovascular health problems. In March 2015, the FDA released another announcement stating they had required manufacturers to add verbiage to their warning labels alerting doctors and patients to the risks of heart attacks, strokes, and death.