Pfizer Refuses to Warn Viagra Customers of Skin Cancer Risk

Pfizer Refuses to Warn Viagra® Customers of Skin Cancer Risk
Sokolove Law is no longer accepting Viagra® and Revatio® cases.

More than 200 men have sued Pfizer for failing to warn them that Viagra® (sildenafil) could give them skin cancer. This wave of legal action against Pfizer began in June 2014 after Harvard scientists and colleagues published a study linking Viagra with melanoma, a serious kind of skin cancer. Because of the massive volume of cases against Pfizer, California’s Northern Legal District has consolidated the cases into a large multi-district litigation (MDL) proceeding.

Erectile dysfunction is very prevalent in American men. Roughly 20 percent of men in the U.S. admit to suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED). Viagra has been prescribed to over 68 million men to treat ED since 1998, though none of these men were told that Viagra may increase their chance of developing melanoma. Melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer and is responsible for 10,130 deaths a year in the U.S., 6,750 of them men.

Linking Viagra® and Melanoma – Following the Science

Scientific evidence for a link between Viagra and skin cancer is growing. Since 2014, 3 separate scientific studies have looked for a link between Viagra and melanoma. Two of the studies, conducted by scientists at Harvard and New York University, found that men who took Viagra were more likely to develop melanoma. One Danish study found no link. Viagra (sildenafil) is a type of drug known as a PDE5 inhibitor, which has been found in several laboratory studies to promote cancerous melanoma cell development and spread.

In most of these studies, scientists followed or surveyed large groups of men (more than 24,000 each in the 2 studies that found the link between Viagra and melanoma), including some who took Viagra and some who did not. Controlling for other factors, one of the studies found that men who took Viagra were 84 percent more likely to develop Melanoma than those not taking Viagra. That is huge: Taking Viagra could therefore nearly double a man’s chance of developing the most lethal known form of skin cancer.

While none of these studies directly prove that Viagra causes melanoma, they do strongly suggest that there is a dangerous link that’s worthy of further research.

Pfizer’s Hypocritical Commitment to Patients and Customers

As part of its statement of commitment to patients and customers, Pfizer prides itself on “listening to the views of all of the people involved in health care decisions.” And yet, in the face of this growing body of scientific evidence, Pfizer has repeatedly denied the link between Viagra and melanoma. Earlier this year, a spokesperson for Pfizer claimed: “there is no reliable scientific evidence that the medicine [Viagra] causes melanoma.”

Pfizer should listen to the mounting research instead of overlooking it. But Pfizer hasn’t revealed any interest in adding a new warning label to Viagra or making a settlement with melanoma victims, for obvious fear of seeing their profit margins shrink.

What’s even more hypocritical is that Pfizer has refused to conduct additional clinical trials or support new research on melanoma risks in its patients. This is from a company that trumpets: “we at Pfizer are committed to applying science and our global resources to improve health and well-being at every stage of life.” If that’s true, then why continue to ignore the work of prominent scientists? Pfizer should do what they have promised and put their resources towards additional research. This is clearly in the best interest of its customers.

Pfizer reportedly makes more than $1.7 Billion a year from selling Viagra.  It is confident enough in the drug’s safety to aggressively market it to men during NFL games. Viagra should “apply science” as aggressively as it applies marketing to ensure the safety of one of its most widely-used and profitable products.

Meanwhile, the lawsuits continue to pile up as Pfizer continues to sell Viagra® to millions and millions of men without any word whatsoever of melanoma risk.

Author:Sokolove Law Team
Sokolove Law Team

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Last modified: March 9, 2020