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LawyersandSettlements.com Issues Report on Prostate Health Claim Lawsuits and Propecia Side Effect Litigation

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In observance of Men's Health Month, LawyersandSettlements.com reports on consumer fraud lawsuits filed as a result of alleged false advertising directed at health-conscious men. While Propecia lawsuits alleging high-grade prostate cancer in addition to Propecia sexual dysfunction, are ongoing, the FTC has ruled that POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice health claims regarding the prostate are unsubstantiated.

Since last year's FDA announcement regarding the labeling change for Propecia (finasteride), additional Propecia lawsuits have been filed, and subsequently consolidated into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL). The Propecia label was updated in June, 2011 to add "Increased Risk of High-Grade Prostate Cancer with 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors" to the drug's risk profile.

Such warnings regarding drug side effects can prompt patients to become more aware of their health in general. But as health-conscious men have become a flourishing target audience for marketers, some of the ads targeting these men have begun to become targets themselves--for false advertising lawsuits.

Most recently, the prostate health claims, subsequently deemed false advertising, by POM Wonderful, which claimed at one point that their pomegranate juice could help prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and even impotence, came under the scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC filed a false advertising complaint against POM Wonderful LLC (FTC File No. 082-3122, Docket No. 9344 ), and a consumer fraud class action lawsuit has been filed (W. Rex Templeton, Jr. v. POM Wonderful, LLC and Roll International Corporation, Case No. 12-cv-53, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division).

After administrative Judge D. Michael Chappell ruled on the FTC complaint that POM juice claims had been exaggerated, the company quickly responded with a new ad campaign. The new ads, however, as The New York Times reported in "Pom Uses Ad to Answer Judge’s Order" (5/25/12), included selective quotes taken out of context from the judge's ruling. According to the Times, "Those aspects of the judge’s ruling are not mentioned in Pom Wonderful’s new ads, however. Rather, the ads use flattering phrases plucked from the ruling to recommend the health benefits of pomegranate juice and invited readers to “be the judge.”

In 2010, Bayer AG was made to pay a $3.3 million false advertising settlement over claims that its One-A-Day® Men's Health Formula vitamins had the potential to cure, treat or prevent any disease including cancer (McKinney v. Bayer Corporation et al, Case No.1:10-CV-224, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio,). Bayer couldn't produce scientific evidence to back such claims and a settlement was reached with attorneys general from three states.

Propecia was originally approved by the FDA to treat an enlarged prostate but has now had its label changed by the FDA to reflect its potential link to high-grade Propecia prostate cancer. Additionally, in April 2012, the FDA again revised Propecia (Finasteride) labelling to expand the list of sexual adverse events allegedly linked to the drug.

According to a study conducted by Michael S. Irwig, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, division of endocrinology, medical faculty associates, George Washington University and published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine (Volume 8, Issue 6, June, 2011), 70 percent of male participants who took finasteride had problems with orgasm and 94 percent presented with low sexual desire. "And it turns out that almost all of these men had multiple sexual dysfunction problems," Dr. Irwig notes. While Dr. Irwig can't quantify the risk, he maintains, "it's pretty clear there is a relationship here."

The issue has led to Propecia lawsuits--and now, after a consolidated complaint regarding Propecia was filed in St. Louis Circuit Court (case no. 2012-12222-CC00463), Propecia lawsuits have been consolidated into a Multi-District Litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (MDL Docket No. 2331). For Propecia victims, LawyersandSettlements.com remains an ongoing resource for legal news and information related to Propecia side effects.

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