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Propecia Litigation

Propecia Class Action CourthouseAs men continue to suffer serious complications due to Propecia use, Propecia litigation is ongoing in federal and state courts.  To date hundreds of men have filed Propecia lawsuits seeking compensation for the painful and embarrassing sexual side effects caused by the drug.

Propecia multidistrict litigation

Many hundreds of men treated with Propecia have filed lawsuits against Merck & Co., charging that they suffered sexual side effects as a result of taking the drug.  The cases were filed in federal court in at least six states.  In April 2012, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) centralized all the federal Propecia lawsuits before a single judge in Brooklyn.

As of April 15, 2014, 740 Propecia cases had been centralized for pretrial case management before U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Propecia (Finasteride) Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2331 (E.D. N.Y.).MDL treatment allows the parties to exchange information that will apply in all the lawsuits, including Merck documents concerning Propecia, and interview Merck employees under oath in formal depositions.  The centralized handling will also facilitate the parties’ establishment of a plan to collect and maintain medical records for those who filed the lawsuits.

MDL treatment helps ensure consistency for Propecia’s victims and its manufacturer and  also conserves judicial resources by helping courts avoid repetitive work.

Once all parties have supplied the requested records and other evidence, bellwether trials will take place.  These trials are designed to help the parties assess how each victim’s case might be resolved, thus encouraging the parties to settle their disputes without undergoing a full-fledged trial for each individual.  Although no bellwether trials have yet been scheduled, the parties anticipate that they may begin in late 2014 or early 2015.

Centralized case management in New Jersey court

In addition to the federal litigation in Brooklyn, several hundred Propecia lawsuits have been centralized for case management in New Jersey Superior Court in Middlesex County, site of Merck’s headquarters.  In March 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered all Propecia cases that had been filed in New Jersey state courts to be transferred to Judge Jessica Mayer in Middlesex Superior Court.

Judge Mayer immediately issued a case management order setting forth procedures to streamline pretrial information exchange, facilitate the creation of a court database to help track each individual victim’s lawsuit, and set uniform processes for lawyers on both sides to follow during the litigation.

Propecia class action lawsuit

To date no class action lawsuit has been filed regarding Propecia side effects.  A class action would join many victims’ cases into a single lawsuit with one or more plaintiffs serving as class representatives.  Class actions can improve efficiency in processing multiple similar claims, and may result in lower costs for all parties.  But a class action may lead to less favorable results for individuals, as any settlement that is reached is divided among all the victims.  Further, because the lawsuit is tried as a single case involving many victims, each individual plaintiff may have less control over his own case.

Because Propecia’s complications may continue even after men stop taking the drug, those injured by the medication are still seeking compensation for their losses.  New cases are being added to the MDL and the New Jersey multi-county litigation on a regular basis.

Men who have suffered serious complications of Propecia use should consult knowledgeable product liability attorneys in order to determine whether they are eligible for compensation.

Propecia litigation charges sexual side effects

Propecia (generic name finasteride) is manufactured by Merck & Co.  Originally, finasteride was used to treat men for enlarged prostates.  Once Merck realized this medication increased hair growth in 80% of men taking the drug, Merck asked the FDA to approve its use to treat male pattern baldness.

Merck informed the FDA that patients in clinical trials had reported sexual complications when taking Propecia.  But the company asserted that the complications disappeared after patients stopped treatment, as well as in most patients who continued to take the drug.  Further, according to Merck, relatively few patients participating in the trials reported sexual problems:  36 of the 945 men taking Propecia (3.8%) compared to 20 of the 934 who received the placebo (2.1%).

The FDA approved Propecia to treat male pattern hair loss in 1997.  Almost immediately the agency began receiving reports of sexual complications from Propecia use.  Some of the side effects persisted even after treatment stopped.

Among the complications were:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced semen production
  • Decreased libido
  • Lowered sexual sensitivity
  • Infertility

Between 1998 and 2011, the FDA received 421 reports of “serious adverse events” involving Propecia sexual complications.  In 59 incidents (14% of the total number reported), men advised that the sexual complications persisted for over three months after they stopped taking the drug.  As a result of these reports, in 2011 the FDA ordered Merck to add to Propecia’s label a warning that men could continue to suffer erectile dysfunction even after they stopped using the drug.

In April 2012, the FDA ordered Merck to add new warnings to the Propecia label.  The label was required to advise physicians and patients that “libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders [had] continued after discontinuation of the drug.”  The new label also warned that the FDA had received reports of “infertility and/or poor semen quality that normalized or improved after drug discontinuation.”

  1. US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, “MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets,” April 15, 2014
  2. New Jersey Courts, Propecia Litigation Case List
  3. New Jersey Courts, N.J. Sup. Ct. Order Establishing Centralized Management of Propecia Litigation, March 16, 2012
  4. FDA, Questions and Answers:  Finasteride Label Changes, April 11, 2012,