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Lawsuits Alleging Propecia Causes Permanent Sexual Side Effects Consolidated in New York Federal Court

Apr 18, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has ordered that all federally-filed Propecia (finasteride 1mg) lawsuits be transferred to U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, for coordinated pre-trial proceedings.  The new Propecia multidistrict litigation will be presided over by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson.

So far, nine Propecial lawsuits pending in six federal districts are heading to the new multidistrict litigation, but it is anticipated that more will be filed.   All the actions involve allegations that use of Propecia causes persistent sexual dysfunction in a subset of men who took the drug, even after they discontinued its use.  Sexual side effect that may result from Propecia use include:

•    erectile dysfunction
•    low libido
•    problems with orgasm
•    infertility
•    depression
•    suicide

According to the JPML's Transfer Order dated April 16, all parties, including Propecia maker Merck & Co., had supported the consolidation of the federal lawsuits.  Plaintiffs had supported transfer to the Eastern District of New York.  However, Merck had sought centralization of the complaints in the District of New Jersey, but had suggested the Eastern District of New York as an alternative.    The JPML determined that the Eastern District of New York is convenient and accessible forum for the Propecia litigation, pointing out that because Merck is headquartered in nearby Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, it is close to where relevant evidence and witnesses are likely located.

A multidistrict litigation allows lawsuits associated with a particular product to be coordinated under one judge for pretrial litigation to avoid duplicative discovery, inconsistent rulings and to conserve the resources of the parties, witnesses and the court. When lawsuits are consolidated as a multidistrict litigation, each retains its own identity. If the multidistrict litigation process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial.

The announcement of the Propecia consolidation comes less than a week after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that new labels would be added to Propecia, as well as a 5mg version of finasteride, Proscar, regarding their association with persistent male sexual side effects.  The Propecia label was updated to include information about libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders that continued after discontinuation of the drug.  Information regarding decreased libido that continued after discontinuation of the drug was added to the Proscar label.  A revision to both the Propecia and Proscar labels will include a description of reports of male infertility and/or poor semen quality that normalized or improved after drug discontinuation, the FDA said.



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