In the second major multimillion-dollar AndroGel® verdict, a Chicago jury ordered pharmaceutical developer AbbVie to pay over $140 Million to the Tennessee plaintiff who claimed AbbVie’s testosterone drug caused him to suffer a heart attack. A previous AndroGel® verdict was reached in July 2017, and AbbVie was ordered to pay $150 Million in punitive damages.
According to the complaint, filed in 2015, AbbVie failed to adequately warn physicians and patients about the risks associated with AndroGel. The jury concluded that the company had indeed engaged in intentional and “aggressive” false advertising and failed to test the product properly before going to market.
As a result, the company will pay $140,000 in compensatory damages as well as $140 Million in punitive damages in an effort to mitigate any future wrongdoing. However, with another 6,000 similar lawsuits pending, this verdict marks the beginning of a long and costly road to redemption.
What Is AndroGel®?
AndroGel is a controlled testosterone replacement therapy intended for daily use. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000, the drug has never actually been approved for uses AbbVie recommends.
AbbVie markets the drug as a safe and effective treatment for men with low testosterone, which they dubbed “low T.” As far as the medical community is concerned, “low T” is not a recognized medical condition – rather, loss of testosterone is simply a part of aging. Worse still, the drug causes several potentially life-threatening medical problems, including blood clots, cardiac events, and stroke. The Tennessee plaintiff, 49-years-old at the time of his heart attack, had only been using the drug for 2 months.
The FDA ordered AbbVie to add a cardiovascular risk warning to AndroGel’s label in 2015. By this time, the company had already launched a shameless disease awareness campaign called “Is It Low T?” to warn as many men as possible that they may be suffering from the supposed disease. These efforts to capitalize on men’s natural aging process – or “disease mongering,” as coined by experts – certainly paid off: AndroGel rose to become 1 of the nation’s leading testosterone boosters, with 2016 sales totaling approximately $675 Million.
AbbVie Denies Its Alleged Failure to Warn of Known Defects
Throughout the trial, AbbVie insisted that its marketing efforts were fully compliant with FDA standards and the agency’s approved uses. The company even attempted to contest that the plaintiff’s heart attack was caused by other factors, including obesity and high blood pressure.
“We are disappointed with today’s verdict and we intend to appeal,” AbbVie said in a statement.
While consumers and physicians relied on AbbVie’s allegedly false representations and unwittingly put lives on the line, according to the verdict, the medical company also committed “willful and malicious” acts with a conscious disregard for safety. While AbbVie plans to appeal the $150 Million and $140 Million AndroGel® verdicts, these trial results do not bode well for the Big Pharma company as cases continue to mount against them.