“AbbVie, Inc. Misrepresented Risks of AndroGel and Jury Awards $140 Million in 2nd AndroGel Low-T Trial”
By Mark A. York (October 17, 2017
Mass Tort Nexus
AbbVie loses again, a jury in Chicago ordered AbbVie, Inc. to pay more than $140 million on October 5, 2017 to a man who claimed the company misrepresented the risks of its testosterone replacement drug AndroGel prescribed for Low-T, causing him to suffer a heart attack. This is the second major loss for AbbVie in the AndroGel related MDL 2545, (Testosterone Replacement Therapy MDL 2545 Briefcase) in front of Judge Matthew Kennelly, US District Court ND Illinois, this verdict follows the July 24, 2017 verdict of $150 million in the first trial.
The verdict, handed down in federal court in Chicago, came in a lawsuit filed by Tennessee resident Jeffrey Konrad and his wife, the suit was filed in 2015. It is the second verdict against AbbVie to come out of more than 6,000 additional lawsuits against AbbVie and other companies consolidated in the Chicago court in front of Judge Kennelly. Kennelly is a long-term judge, who’s not prone to judicial errors or permitting either side in cases to stray outside the fairly conservative courtroom standards Kennelly is known for, which also relates directly to any AbbVie appeals and post-trial maneuvering.
Chicago-based AbbVie said in a statement “We are disappointed with today’s verdict and we intend to appeal,” With thousands more cases pending, AbbVie may need to look at changing legal strategy or to begin thinking settlement. The juries have stated that the company misled consumers via fraudulent misrepresentation in the “off-label” marketing campaign, which included urging men to their testosterone levels checked.
This verdict was comprised of $140 million in punitive damages, intended to deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar behavior, and $140,000 in compensatory damages, sending a message to not only AbbVie, but other Big Pharma drug makers, that consumers are now becoming aware of manipulation of prescription drug use behind the scenes via marketing campaigns including massive television advertisements.
SECOND BELLWETHER LOSS FOR ABBVIE
Konrad’s case is part of a series of bellwether trials aimed at helping plaintiffs and manufacturers of AndroGel gauge the range of damages and define a legal strategy and settlement options., losing both of the initial bellwether trials doesn’t look good for the defense, see “ANDROGEL” JURY RETURNS $150 MILLION VERDICT IN 1st TESTOSTERONE TRIAL. That jury’s decision to award punitive damages without granting compensatory damages was unusual and both sides continue to fight over the verdict’s validity in court, but shows that the plaintiffs seem to have viable claims at trial.
Plaintiffs across the country allege AndroGel has caused heart attacks, strokes and other injuries, and the company was aware of the increase in adverse events while marketing “off-label” use. AbbVie has defended the drug and responded that its marketing of AndroGel adhered strictly to uses approved by the Food and Drug Administration and they have remained in full compliance with all FDA standards.
Konrad, 56, had been using AndroGel for two months in 2010 when he suffered a heart attack, from which he has since recovered. In court pleadings, the company contended that Konrad’s heart attack was caused by other factors, which are are not related to being prescribed AndroGel, such as obesity and high blood pressure. It also said it made no misrepresentations about AndroGel’s safety, which now two juries have disagreed with to the tune of $290 million.
ANDROGEL WAS A BLOCKBUSTER FROM FIRST RELEASE
AbbVie’s AndroGel is one of the more dominant testosterone treatments In the ever growing Low-T market, with sales of $675 million in 2016, and was declared a blockbuster drug and moved earnings and shares higher as soon as AndroGel hit the market. However, there were concerns about the drug safety as far back as 2012 and the FDA took notice not long thereafter. In 2014, the FDA convened an advisory committee to consider the adverse cardiovascular outcomes associated with testosterone replacement therapy, and the committee recommended changing the product warning labels, the FDA then required AbbVie to add a warning about cardiovascular risk to AndroGel’s label in May 2015.