AndroGel AndroGel, by pharmaceutical company AbbVie Inc.


Abbott Laboratories Inc. and AbbVie Inc., the last defendants in the litigation over “low testosterone,” have reached a global settlement that resolves more than 4,000 cases.

In an order on Monday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly of the Northern District of Illinois said the “parties have entered into a confidential term sheet regarding a potential global settlement.” He stayed all cases against Abbott and AbbVie, and canceled a Thursday status hearing, “so that the parties may devote their efforts to finalizing a master settlement agreement.”

There were no details about the settlement. Spokespeople for Abbott and AbbVie and lead defense lawyer David Bernick of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York did not respond to requests for comment. Trent Miracle, a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy in Alton, Illinois, and co-lead plaintiffs counsel in the testosterone cases declined to comment.

The settlement ends a docket of more than 6,000 cases alleging that “low testosterone” treatments caused heart attacks and blood clots. The cases began with a bang as juries in federal court in Chicago last year awarded $150 million and $140 million verdicts against Abbott and AbbVie, which make AndroGel. But Kennelly struck both verdicts after finding the jury’s findings were inconsistent. In a retrial of the first verdict, a jury awarded $3.2 million on March 26. Abbott and AbbVie won defense verdicts on Jan. 26, May 15 and June 14.

Several other defendants—Eli Lilly and Co., GlaxoSmithKline and Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals plc—reached settlements earlier this year. And a fourth defendant, Actavis Inc., which is part of Teva Pharmaceuticals, settled its cases in July ahead of a planned Aug. 6 trial, according to court records. All the settlements have been confidential.

Miracle and two other co-lead plaintiffs counsel, Chris Seeger of Seeger Weiss in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, and Ronald Johnson of Schachter, Hendy & Johnson in Fort Wright, Kentucky, have asked Kennelly to increase an attorney fee “holdback” of 10 percent that pays for a common benefit fund, which helps them pay for the costs of spearheading the multidistrict litigation. In a motion filed on Monday, they asked for 19.5 percent, which is on the high side. But they said the cases involved 10 different products, five defendants and more than four years of litigation that included six bellwether trials.

“When the initial holdback was set, the amount of work and expenses that would be required to prosecute this case could not be adequately assessed,” they wrote. “These circumstances have led to a greater than expected amount of work being performed by expert witnesses, vendors and the 30 law firms in the plaintiffs’ steering committee.”