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Pfizer Opposes Inclusion in Proposed Testosterone Therapy MDL

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The talk of centralizing testosterone-replacement lawsuits continues. On April 11, 2014, plaintiffs in Barrios v AbbVie Inc. filed a motion seeking consolidation of all lawsuits dealing with testosterone replacement drugs, regardless of the brand or manufacturer.

Most companies that produce testosterone replacement products have agreed to centralization, but a few are still opposed. Auxilium Pharmaceuticals (makers of Testim), for example, argues that there are too few cases involving their product to be fairly lumped in with all the rest.

On April 30, 2014, Pfizer Inc. also stated their opposition to the idea of one MDL for all testosterone-replacement therapy lawsuits.

Pfizer Opposes Inclusion in the MDL

The FDA warned in January 2014 that studies had linked testosterone replacement drugs to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and death. Plaintiffs who took the products and then suffered from serious health side effects claim the manufacturers never warned them of these types of risks.

In their opposition to being involved in the proposed MDL (Case ILN/1:14-cv-02934), Pfizer—which manufactures the Depo-testosterone injection—stated they “strongly believed” they shouldn’t be part of any such proceeding, because their product is involved in only four cases so far. They argued that because of the limited claims, most of the discovery and pretrial issues “will not overlap with the cases against other defendants to anywhere near the degree suggested by the movants.”

One of the claims made by plaintiffs in these cases is that the companies over-promoted their products, leading consumers to believe that many men were affected by low-testosterone, and that symptoms could be as simple as a lack of energy. Pfizer points to this claim specifically, and notes that they did not promote Depo-testosterone this way, so adding them to the MDL would not increase the efficiency of pre-trial proceedings.

Pfizer’s four cases, they argue, would thus take a “back seat” in any MDL, which would only delay proceedings, hurting both plaintiffs and defendants.

Differences in Testosterone Products

Pfizer goes on to point out other differences with Depo-testosterone, including that it exposes patients to a lower level of hormones over the course of a year than do topical gel treatments, and that it is delivered via injection. They add that several generic injections are also available, which could bring up other issues that are not applicable to other testosterone products currently involved in lawsuits, which are all name-brand drugs.

The other companies that have already agreed to the idea of an MDL include AbbVie and their parent company, Abbot Laboratories (AndroGel); Eli Lilly (Axiron), and Endo Pharmaceuticals (Aveed, Delatestryl, and Fortesta). These companies have urged the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate all testosterone therapy replacement lawsuits to one court in the Northern District of Illinois, and to assign Judge Kennelly to pre-trial proceedings.