AbbVie Inc.’s AndroGel may not have caused Jesse Mitchell’s heart attack, but the company was sorely fraudulent in marketing its testosterone replacement therapy to Mitchell and other men for a made-up ailment, an Illinois federal jury found while laying out a $150 million verdict against the drug company, Law360 reported.
Mitchell’s case was one of thousands in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) accusing manufacturers of testosterone treatments of not adequately warning that the hormone replacement therapy could cause heart attacks, strokes and blood clots, some of which can be fatal. The lawsuits also blame testosterone makers for creating a condition, called Low T, to lure men into using the product to treat symptoms such as low libido, weight gain and mood swings.
Testosterone therapies are approved only for hypogonadism, a condition in which men produce too little of the male hormone due to disease or defect. It is not for the natural drop in testosterone that occurs as men age. Yet, AbbVie and other testosterone makers launched aggressive marketing campaigns aimed directly to consumers.
Mitchell sued AbbVie in 2014 after suffering a heart attack while using AndroGel. His lawsuit pointed to numerous studies that found a link between testosterone treatments and cardiovascular risks, yet the drug companies did not include these risks on the safety labels of their testosterone products.
AbbVie argued that Mitchell’s heart attack could have been caused by his obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol or family history.
The jury ultimately sided with the drug company on the question of cause, but stood with Mitchell on his fraudulent misrepresentation claim. No compensatory damages were awarded, but the jury laid out $150 million in punitive damages in Mitchell’s favor.