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Proscar, Propecia Litigation Heating UP

Dec 21, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

The litigation surrounding Merck's Proscar and Propecia medications continues to grow, with several plaintiffs seeking mass tort status for their lawsuits.   Proscar and Propecia lawsuits claim the drugs caused users to suffer from erectile dysfunction and other problems, and that Merck failed to warn that such side effects could persist even after treatment was stopped.

According to a report from Lawyers USA Online, the first Propecia lawsuit was filed in New Jersey federal court in February on behalf of a Texas man and a Nevada man who took the medication for male pattern baldness. The plaintiffs in that complaint are seeking mass tort status.  Another petition for a mass tort was filed in state court in New Jersey on behalf of 46 plaintiffs, and will likely include hundreds of plaintiffs.  Just this month, a New York plaintiff filed a motion to centralize the cases in a multi-district litigation. 

At least one class action lawsuit has also been filed in Canada on behalf of a Proscar user there.  

All of the lawsuits claim the men suffered serious side effects, including erectile dysfunction, infertility, depression and suicidal thoughts because of the drugs.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers told Lawyers USA Online that a key to winning the lawsuits would be Merck's failure to include adequate warnings on the drugs’ labels.  In 2008, Merck changed the Propecia label to warn that the drug could lead to permanent erectile dysfunction.  Similar changes to the labels in the U.K. and Italy followed in 2009 and 2010. Though Merck did update its U.S. label in 2011, the change didn’t warn about persistent sexual side effects after discontinuation of use.  The Canadian label continues to state that side effects are rare and symptoms resolve themselves if users either stay on the drug or stop using it.

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