Attorneys for a man suing AbbVie Inc., maker of AndroGel, told an Illinois federal jury that the drug company never tested its testosterone replacement therapy to rule out if it could cause heart problems, Law360 reported. Otherwise plaintiff Jeffrey Konrad would never have taken the drug, they said.
Konrad’s case is the second bellwether trial in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) taking aim at testosterone manufacturers. AbbVie, as the maker of the top selling AndroGel, is the first drug maker to sit in the hot seat. The first trial against AbbVie ended in a $150 million in punitive damages for the plaintiff. Jurors did not find AndroGel was responsible for the plaintiff’s heart attack, but punished the drug company for aggressive marketing for unapproved uses.
Konrad was 49 when he went to his doctor in April 2010 complaining of feeling sluggish after running a 5K. His doctor checked his testosterone levels and prescribed AndroGel. About two months later, while running on the treadmill, Konrad suffered a heart attack.
He filed a lawsuit against AbbVie in 2015 claiming the drug company ignored evidence of heart risks with the use of AndroGel in patients with age-related drops of testosterone – a use for which the drug is not approved. His attorney mentioned several independent studies that showed testosterone replacement therapy could cause an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots, especially in older men. Yet, AbbVie failed to address this risk, opting to aggressively market the drug for age-related testosterone deficiency.
Konrad’s trial began in June but ended in a mistrial after his lead attorney fell ill.