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Eli Lilly & Co. Testosterone Bellwether Trials Scheduled for 2018

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Chicago, ILAbbVie Inc., the makers of AndroGel, have garnered the lion’s share of attention (and the highest proportion of lawsuits) in the testosterone side effects MDL to date. However Eli Lilly and Co. (Lilly), the manufacturer of Axiron, is the subject of renewed focus after the federal judge in Illinois overseeing multidistrict litigation last month selected the first two bellwether cases that will go to trial next year (In re: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability Litigation, Case No: 1:14-cv-01748, in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois).

According to a complaint originally filed in 2015, plaintiff Tracy Garner visited his doctor in March 2013 seeking a test for so-called ‘Low-T’ after seeing advertisements about the disease – a malady alleged not to be a disease at all, but rather a condition largely fabricated by the testosterone industry in order to create a new market for their products. Garner’s doctor prescribed him Axiron.

A few days later, Garner suffered a testosterone heart attack. He blames his attack on the use of Axiron testosterone supplement made by Lilly. “Lilly led all testosterone manufacturers in advertising costs in 2013, spending $122 million promoting Axiron, with nearly 70 percent of that amount, an astounding $84 million, spent on direct-to-consumer marketing,” Garner says in his testosterone side effects lawsuit (Garner v. Eli Lilly and Co. et al., Case No. 1:15-cv-02045).

Plaintiff John DeBroka, a resident of Florida, alleges in his testosterone lawsuit that he began using Axiron for testosterone therapy in late 2013. Within a month of starting on Axiron, he claims to have developed deep vein thrombosis (DeBroka v. Eli Lilly and Co. et al., Case No. 1:15-cv-09246).

Testosterone stroke is also alleged as an adverse event inherent to the use of testosterone, together with the chance for testosterone heart attack and the potential for testosterone death. Testosterone therapy has been around for decades and was originally indicated for treatment of severe testosterone depletion in men, for whom the benefits of testosterone therapy outweighed the risks. However, in recent years manufacturers of testosterone supplements are alleged to have been targeting the growing population of middle-aged men seeking to reclaim their former youthful vigor through testosterone supplements.

Testosterone, in otherwise healthy men with normal levels of testosterone that naturally diminish with age, is thought to thicken the blood and thus pose a greater risk for testosterone heart attack and testosterone stroke.

The Lilly bellwether cases are expected to be tried in January, and March of 2018 – although it isn’t clear which of the two cases will go to trial first. Before that time a second bellwether case involving AbbVie is to be tried this month. The first bellwether case for AbbVie ended in mistrial following a sudden illness to the lead plaintiff’s attorney. That trial will be re-mounted in September.

Of the 6,000 testosterone side effects cases in multidistrict litigation, AbbVie has the lion’s share of about 4,200. Cases are consolidated before US District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

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