According to the MDL Statistics Report (11/17/14), as of November 17, there were 742 lawsuits consolidated before US District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York under federal MDL 2331 (In Re: Propecia (Finasteride) Products Liability Litigation). The number of lawsuits consolidated for pretrial proceedings remained constant through January 1, 2015.
The lawsuits allege that Merck, maker of Propecia, failed to adequately warn men about the risk of long-term, potentially serious side effects linked to Propecia, including a reported risk of prostate cancer and sexual dysfunction. Propecia is approved to reduce hair loss in men. It is also used for the treatment of an enlarged prostate.
In the summer of 2014, plaintiffs accused Merck of failing to provide more than 1,800 documents that the plaintiffs say are necessary for their lawsuit. Merck reportedly claimed its documents are protected under attorney-client or work-product privilege. Merck had also argued that it agreed to review documents, according to court documents filed in a motion from the plaintiffs to compel Merck to provide documents.
“However, despite having four months to do so, and despite having a continuing good faith obligation to update its discovery responses, Merck has not produced a single page that it had previously withheld because of a misapplied claim of privilege,” attorneys for the plaintiffs noted. The attorneys noted that not providing any of the 1,800 the plaintiffs challenged was a sign that Merck “has no intention of doing so without intervention from the court.”
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"Documents to which the Plaintiffs are entitled must be produced immediately,” attorneys wrote. “Plaintiffs cannot afford to allow Merck to withhold documents that are clearly not entitled to privilege.”
According to an SEC filing (11/10/14) from Merck, as of September 30, 2014, the company faced approximately 1,240 lawsuits involving approximately 1,500 plaintiffs in state and federal court. Those lawsuits allege persistent sexual side effects that continued after treatment with Propecia and/or Proscar had stopped. Additionally, 45 of those plaintiffs also allege a link between Propecia and/or Proscar and prostate cancer or male breast cancer.
In its SEC filing, Merck noted that it intends to defend against the lawsuits.