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Viagra Use and Increased Melanoma Risk

Dec 16, 2016
Viagra Use May Lead to an Increased Risk of Melanoma

Over 200 men who took the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra say the drug increased their risk of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. These men are suing the drug's maker, Pfizer, alleging company failed to warn them of warn of the drug's danger.

Pfizer maintains that there is no scientific evidence supporting a cause and effect relationship between the use of Viagra and developing the sometimes deadly skin cancer , CBS San Francisco reports.

The American Cancer Society says that melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. If not caught early, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. For early-stage melanoma, removal of the melanoma along with a border of normal skin and a layer of tissue beneath the skin may be the only treatment needed. But if the melanoma has spread beyond the skin, the individual may need other treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, or biological therapy to boost the immune system, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The melanoma survival rate depends on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis-survival rates are higher for people with earlier stage cancers-the person's overall health, and how the cancer responds to treatment.

Research Study Prompts Lawsuits

National Law firm Parker Waichman notes that the proliferation of lawsuits began after a 2014 study in the Journal of American Medical Association. While the did not find that using Viagra (sildenafil) caused melanoma, they did conclude that the Viagra use "may be associated with an increased risk of developing melanoma."

Dr. Wen-Qing Li, professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Brown University, is one of the lead authors of the study. In 2014, Dr. Li was a research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital. Li said he and his colleagues "have done comprehensive analysis examining the associations between Viagra use and risk of melanoma and found a positive association." The results are based on a well-established and long-term cohort study, Li said. The results suggest a robust and positive association between Viagra use and the risk for melanoma. Li said there is a need for further investigation of continued investigation of the relationship between sildenafil and melanoma before altering current prescribing recommendations. Viagra has been prescribed to more than 68 million patients worldwide since it came to market in 1998.

Link Between Viagra and Melanoma

Link Between Viagra and Melanoma

The link between Viagra and melanoma is complex, but the plaintiffs in Viagra cases have argued that scientific studies show a link between the way Viagra works and the development of melanoma cells. Viagra is a type PDE5 inhibitor drug. Viagra helps a man achieve an erection by inhibiting an enzyme that can prevent erection. But blocking this enzyme can also trigger the growth of melanoma cells, according to the master complaint filed in the federal multidistrict litigation. Viagra blocks the secretion of PDE5, which leads to an increase in cGMP, which can cause cell mutation and the creation and proliferation of melanoma cells.

Some of the plaintiffs in the MDL are men who are now living with melanoma, but other plaintiffs have filed lawsuits on behalf of someone who died of melanoma after using Viagra. Plaintiffs say they should have been warned about the melanoma risk; some say they would not have taken the Viagra if they had known of the cancer risk. A lawsuit was filed in November 2016 on behalf of a North Carolina man who took Viagra for 12 years (2003 to 2015). The man was first diagnosed with melanoma in 2009 and then again in 2013, according to CBS San Francisco.

In a statement to CBS San Francisco, a Pfizer spokesperson asserted Viagra's "safety and efficacy," saying "Pfizer stands behind this medicine and will vigorously defend these lawsuits."

Federal Judge Richard Seeborg, who is overseeing the litigation, has ordered the parties to file legal briefs over Pfizer's refusal to produce documents relating to its research on other PDE5 inhibitor drugs. Pfizer contends that this research is unrelated to the issues in the litigation, but the plaintiffs argue that what Pfizer knew about the PDE5 class inhibitor drugs and about the effects of inhibiting PDE5 relates to what Pfizer knew or should have known about Viagra users risks of developing melanoma.

Legal Help for Viagra Users Who Have Developed Melanoma

If you or someone you know has developed melanoma after using Viagra or another drug in the PDE5 inhibitor class, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are available to provide for a free, confidential, no obligation case evaluation. To reach the firm, fill out the online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).


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