July 25, 2017 — A federal jury in Chicago has awarded $150 million to a man who suffered a heart attack after using AndroGel testosterone gel for four years.
The lawsuit was filed by Jesse Mitchell, a man from Oregon who started taking AndroGel in 2008. At the time, AbbVie was advertising AndroGel as a treatment for “Low T,” a made-up condition involving normal age-related symptoms like sagging muscles and low libido.
Mitchell suffered a heart attack in 2012 after taking AndroGel for 4 years. He filed a lawsuit in 2014 accusing AbbVie of failing to warn about the risk. His lawsuit was chosen as a “bellwether” trial in a centralized federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2545). The MDL currently involves over 6,100 lawsuits against AbbVie and Abbott Laboratories.
The $150 million verdict is unusual because it only involves punitive damages, meant to punish AbbVie for falsely marketing AndroGel. The jury did not award compensatory damages for injuries or medical bills.
Because the U.S. Supreme Court generally limits punitive damage awards to 10X the amount of compensatory damages, it is unlikely that the $150 million verdict will survive an appeal by AbbVie.
Even so, lawyers for Mitchell say the verdict is “a powerful message that the jury sent to AbbVie about the way they marketed and promoted this drug” and there will be more trials in upcoming months.
The case is Mitchell et al. v. AbbVie Inc. et al. — Case No. 1:14-cv-09178 — in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago — In re: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability Litigation.