February 19, 2014 — AbbVie, Inc. is facing an AndroGel lawsuit in federal court in Illinois. AbbVie is accused of “disease mongering” AndroGel as a treatment for “Low T” while failing to warn patients and/or health care professionals about the need to check hemocrit levels as a way to mitigate the risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and death.
The lawsuit was filed by a 61 year-old retired Highway Patrol officer who started taking AndroGel after viewing TV advertisements sponsored by AbbVie. The ads were part of a “disease awareness campaign” AbbVie launched to convince men with low energy, decreased sex drive, depression, or other common symptoms to ask their doctor about low testosterone.
After using several doses of AndroGel, Gibby developed blood clots and was hospitalized in September 2013. He was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs), which traveled to his lungs and caused a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. He had to take blood-thinning medications, incurred significant medical expenses, and suffers from permanent disability. Before taking AndroGel, he had no history of significant cardiovascular events.
According to lawyers for Gibby:
“AndroGel causes the hematocrit level to increase, thereby thickening the blood. … This effect, if not monitored and controlled properly, can lead to life threatening cardiac events, strokes and thrombolytic events (including pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis and other blood clots).”
AbbVie is accused of downplaying, understating, and outright ignoring risk information regarding health hazards of AndroGel. Lawyers also allege that AbbVie manipulated statistics on hypogonadism to make it seem like the disease was widespread, while concealing information about side effects.