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Pharmaceutical faces numerous lawsuits alleging misrepresentation, failure to warn

Some of our readers may be aware that testosterone replacement therapy has become increasingly popular in recent years as awareness has grown of the important role testosterone plays in men's health. Opinions vary on the value and safety of testosterone replacement therapy, but there is certainly a market for it.

One company that has made a place for itself in this market is AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company that markets AndroGel for the treatment of low testosterone. The FDA began investing the drug in 2013 for its association with heart attacks and strokes in otherwise healthy men. By mid-2014, the FDA began requiring that testosterone replacement medications include warnings about the risk of blood clots. 

Now, AbbVie is facing over 6,000 lawsuits involving allegations of failure to warn and misleading consumers. The lawsuits have been consolidated in federal court in Chicago, but the first of these cases was recently tried and resolved in favor of the plaintiff.

The man behind the case suffered a heart attack after using AndroGel over a four year period. He, like so many others, claimed AbbVie didn't do enough to make sure patients understood the positive correlation between use of the product and heart attack, and that the company misrepresented the risk of using the drug.

It remains to be seen, though, whether the decision in the case will stand. That's because the man was awarded no compensatory damages, but only $150 million in punitive damages. Because punitive damages awards are supposed to be reasonable and are usually based on compensatory damages, the decision could be challenged.

One of the likely challenges for plaintiffs in the AndroGel cases is that the evidence for increased risk of blood clotting, stroke and heart attack is not supported by every study. In at least one case, no increased risk of heart attack and stroke was found to exist from the use of AndroGel.

For those who have been harmed by pharmaceutical companies, of course, the prospect of suing for compensation can be daunting. That is why working with an experienced attorney is critical to ensuring a consumer has the best possible opportunity to hold a pharmaceutical manufacturer accountable for failing to uphold its duties to consumers.  

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