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Pfizer's Viagra Facing Serious Allegations of Link to Cancer Risk

Sep 13, 2016

Since its approval in 1998 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Viagra has been the most visible and popular treatment for erectile dysfunction for men worldwide, bringing in billions of dollars in revenue for its manufacturer Pfizer Inc.

However, consumers in a California multidistrict litigation (MDL) have accused the pharmaceutical conglomerate of vigorously marketing Viagra without admitting their knowledge of an increased risk of developing melanoma. The lawsuit alleges that Pfizer was aware or should have known the health risks involving Viagra and Revatio, a similar medication for treating a lung condition, but did not reveal this information on its labels or in its marketing.

Pfizer knew that people had dropped out of clinical studies by the late 1990s because some subjects had developed cancers that started in the skin or in the tissue lining organs after taking Viagra, according to a Center for Drug Evaluation and Research joint clinical review. Pfizer is accused of deceiving potential Viagra users with positive advertising, including testimonials from retired, popular United States politicians, while simultaneously downplaying known adverse and severe health effects, Law360 reports.

Viagra inhibits the secretion of a particular enzyme that can prevent erection. Over the last several years, studies have found that blocking this enzyme can also trigger the development of melanoma cells. A 2014 study reported that of nearly 25,850 participants who had recently used Viagra, there was an 84 percent increase in the risk of developing or worsening melanoma. A risk also exists for men who have used Viagra at any time in the past.

The numerous allegations in the MDL include negligence, unfair and deceptive trade practices, strict liability, breach of express and implied warranty, unjust enrichment, fraud and deceit, and negligent misrepresentation and concealment, according to Law360.


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