A conference to review the progress of discovery efforts in a group of more than 1,340 lawsuits against manufacturers of testosterone treatments is scheduled for April 21, and the first case is expected to go trial in the fall of 2016. The lawsuits were consolidated in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois and target seven testosterone makers claiming the drugs caused heart attacks, strokes and other health problems.
Testosterone treatments are prescription hormones that are designed to treat hypogonadism, a condition in which men do not produce enough testosterone due to injury or disease. Pharmaceutical companies have aggressively marketed testosterone treatments in recent years, coining the phrase “Low T.”
The ads claimed that testosterone drugs can improve sex drive, muscle mass and energy levels, and encouraged men to ask their doctors if they may be candidates for testosterone therapy. The marketing efforts paid off with skyrocketing sales.
At first, it seemed like testosterone treatments were the fountain of youth for men, until studies emerged that showed men who took the drugs were at risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and death. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered that stronger wording be added to the safety labels to prevent inappropriate prescribing, and required manufacturers to add warnings for cardiovascular risks.
The warning comes too late for men like Bob Cripe of Kansas City, who claims he suffered a spinal stroke at the age of 46, just one week after starting treatment with AndroGel, made by AbbVie. He is now partially paralyzed. Daniel Lang of Dayton, Ohio, says he took Fortesta from Endo Pharmaceuticals for eight months when he was 52. He suffered bilateral lung embolisms that he claims were caused by the testosterone treatment.
Attorneys say that the lawsuits against testosterone manufacturers will likely set a precedent in pharmaceutical litigation because testosterone drugs were heavily marketed for a condition – Low T – that the FDA hasn’t even recognized as a disease.