AbbVie Inc.’s marketing of its testosterone replacement therapy AndroGel was part of an “insidious” plan to up its profits, argued attorneys for a man suing AbbVie over claims that the drug company didn’t study AndroGel’s cardiovascular risks.
Jeffrey Konrad claims he used AndroGel for a few months before suffering a heart attack in 2010. He alleges that AbbVie was aware at that time that testosterone treatments were linked to cardiovascular risks, including heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots – all of which could be fatal. But AbbVie failed to adequately warn Konrad or his doctor of the risks so that he could make an informed decision whether to use the male hormone replacement, the complaint claims.
Instead, AbbVie launched a massive advertising campaign much of which was aimed directly to consumers informing them of a made up condition called Low T that causes symptoms such as low libido, muscle loss and weight gain. AndroGel was promoted as a treatment for this so-called condition.
Konrad alleges that AbbVie promoted AndroGel for Low T, but that testosterone treatments are only approved for the treatment of hypogonadism, a condition in which men do not produce enough testosterone due to injury or defect. Drug companies cannot market drugs for unapproved uses, but doctors have the discretion to prescribe drugs for off-label uses.
Konrad is one of thousands of men suing makers of testosterone replacement therapies over cardiovascular risks. The cases have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation. Konrad’s case is the second bellwether to go to trial. The first resulted in a $150 million verdict against AbbVie, with the jury calling out the company’s unscrupulous marketing of AndroGel.