August 13, 2013 — Merck & Co. has published a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with an update on the ongoing litigation involving Propecia (finasteride). At least 1,040 lawsuits involving Propecia or Proscar have been filed by nearly 1,370 plaintiffs, including spouses who are seeking compensation for loss of consortium.
Nearly all of the lawsuits allege that finasteride, the active ingredient in Propecia and Proscar, can cause sexual dysfunction that persists after the drug is discontinued. Merck has also reported facing lawsuits from 24 plaintiffs who developed prostate cancer or male breast cancer.
Finasteride is a drug that was originally developed to treat enlarged male prostate glands. It metabolizes testosterone into the more-potent hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Lawsuits allege that finasteride can cause severe hormonal imbalances, sexual dysfunction, physical disfigurement, and cognitive disorders that do not get better when finasteride is discontinued. Merck is accused of downplaying these risks.
Propecia lawsuits have been filed throughout the United States, but the majority are centralized in state court in New Jersey or federal court in New York. The litigation in New Jersey is pending in Middlesex County before Judge Jessica Mayer. The litigation in New York is pending before Judge John Gleeson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.