A federal jury has awarded $150 million to an Oregon man who claimed AbbVie Inc. misrepresented the safety of a prescription gel used to treat low testosterone.
Monday’s verdict is the first to come out of nearly 6,000 lawsuits alleging that testosterone replacement therapies caused heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. The cases also alleged that the drugs’ manufacturers, in an effort to boost sales, made false statements in an aggressive advertising and marketing campaign about how many men actually suffered from low testosterone — rather than just the effects of old age. The multidistrict litigation, which involves other defendants such as Eli Lilly & Co., has been coordinated before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly of the Northern District of Illinois, who is overseeing bellwether trials in Chicago.
An earlier case ended in a mistrial after lead counsel Christopher Seeger suffered heart arrhythmia.
The latest trial began on July 5. The jury, which began its deliberations on Friday, awarded damages to Jessie Mitchell, who alleged that he had a heart attack in 2012 after taking AndroGel for four years. Jurors sided with Mitchell on a claim that AbbVie and Abbott Laboratories, from which it spun off in 2012, made fraudulent misrepresentations about the drug. They sided with the defendants, however, on claims of strict liability and negligence. The award was entirely punitive damages.
Mitchell’s lead trial counsel, Troy Rafferty, a shareholder at Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty Proctor in Pensacola, Florida, did not respond to a request for comment.
AbbVie spokeswoman Adelle Infante said in an emailed statement: “The jury found that Androgel did not cause any damage. We expect the punitive damage award will not stand.”
Defense counsel Michelle Yeary of Dechert in Princeton, New Jersey, and David Bernick, of New York’s Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, also did not respond to requests for comment.
Kennelly has rescheduled the first trial for Sept. 18.