The US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has issued a transfer order centralizing federal lawsuits in the Viagra melanoma litigation in the Northern District of California. According to the order, responding plaintiffs and the defendant, Pfizer, Inc. support or do not oppose the action. The panel also ordered that the MDL 2691 be renamed In re: Viagra ( Sildenafil Citrate) Products Liability Litigation.
Attorney Ernest Cory of Cory Watson Attorneys argued a motion on behalf of plaintiffs before the Judicial Panel of Multidistrict Litigation on March 31, 2016, asking the panel to consider a request that all Viagra melanoma cases filed in federal courts be consolidated. The federal judges on the MDL panel issued today’s Transfer Order based on hearing arguments from attorneys for Pfizer and from attorneys representing plaintiffs. Attorneys nationwide are involved in the litigation. The court proceedings have been assigned to the Honorable Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California.
Failed to warn consumers about melanoma risk
The Transfer Order states that “These actions share actual questions arising out of the allegation that Viagra (sildenafil citrate) causes or increases the risk of developing melanoma and that defendant failed to warn consumers and health care providers of the alleged risk. Additionally, all actions rely principally on the same studies to support their claims. Issues concerning general causation, the background science, regulatory history, and marketing will be common to all actions. Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings on Daubert and other issues, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.”
Plaintiffs’ lawsuits, including Dennis Andrews v. Pfizer, Inc., United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Case No. 3:15-cv-4884, allege Pfizer knew Viagra posed a cancer risk, and purposely hid facts about the drug’s safety. The plaintiff also alleges that Pfizer failed to sufficiently test the link between the use of the drug and the risk of deadly melanoma before the drug was approved by the FDA. Additionally, Plaintiffs allege in the suit that that even when studies linked Viagra to an increased risk of melanoma, Pfizer failed to warn users about the important risks associated with Viagra use and instead, continued to spend millions of dollars to promote Viagra.
In June of 2014, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported the results of a long-term study linking melanoma and Viagra use.
Researchers examined data from The Health Professionals Follow-up Study, a long-term study by the Harvard School of Public Health, which tracked the data of nearly 26,000 men from 1986 through 2000. The researchers looked at both the instances of melanoma in these men as well as their reported Viagra use.
Even after controlling for factors like a history of skin cancer and UV light exposure, men who had taken Viagra were significantly more likely to develop melanomas than those who did not. Of the men who never used Viagra, 4.3 out of every 1,000 developed melanoma skin cancer. Of the men who reported using the erectile dysfunction drug, 8.6 men out of every 1,000 developed melanoma–an 84% increase.