AbbVie Inc., turned a blind eye on cardiovascular risks associated with its AndroGel testosterone replacement therapy, said the attorney for a man suing the company over claims that AndroGel caused a blood clot to develop deep in his veins.
The only warning Robert Rowley had that his testosterone treatment could cause heart attacks, strokes and blood clots was a warning on the product’s safety label about an increased risk for polycythemia, a blood thickening disease that can lead to blood clots.
“But it’s not the only way,” Rowley’s attorney told an Illinois federal jury during the latest bellwether trial in a multidistrict litigation involving heart risks with makers of various testosterone replacement therapies. “And the company knew it wasn’t the only way, and it didn’t warn about the other mechanisms.”
Rowley began taking AndroGel in 2012 at the age of 66 to treat fatigue. He had previously had a testicle removed. His doctor ordered two tests that showed his hormone levels were low. That’s when his doctor prescribed AndroGel.
Rowley returned to his doctor a month later for a follow-up visit, during which his doctor increased his AndroGel dosage because his testosterone levels were still below the normal range. He continued taking the higher dosage for a year. In 2013, he developed deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in the deep veins in his leg. Rowley stopped taking AndroGel in 2016, after which he developed another clot in the same place.
Rowley’s attorneys claim that studies dating back to 2004 indicate that AndroGel could cause an increased risk for blood clots.
Rowley is the fifth man to sue AbbVie, but the first to claim the medication caused deep vein thrombosis. The others blamed the drug for causing heart attacks or pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lungs. Rowley’s case is one of more than 6,000 pending in the testosterone multidistrict litigation.