October 7, 2015 — Lawyers have until the end of the month to choose a pool of 32 cases for the first six “bellwether” trials involving blood clots and heart attacks caused by testosterone.
Choosing the cases has been contentious, according to Forbes, with AbbVie fighting hard to dismiss cases. AbbVie also wants judges to choose which cases go to trial, rather than lawyers.
About 2,000 lawsuits are pending in a centralized federal litigation against several manufacturers of testosterone therapy products. AbbVie, manufacturer of AndroGel, was chosen to be the first drug-maker to face trial in October 2016. Trials against other drug-makers will not begin until the second half of 2017.
The cases have been divided into two general categories: venous blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) and heart attacks. Lawyers much choose 16 trial candidates from each category, of which three will be chosen.
The outcome of each trial is not binding on other lawsuits in the litigation. However, they indicate how a jury might respond to evidence. They can also help lawyers gauge the value of a settlement.
AbbVie faces the brunt of the litigation. The company manufactured the most popular testosterone product, AndroGel, and launched a massive ad campaign to convince millions of men they might have “Low T” if they experienced fatigue, depressed mood, or sexual dysfunction.
The campaign was wildly successful — until studies linked testosterone therapy with higher rates of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, and death. The FDA has issued several warnings and ordered label updates to include these possible side effects.