Merck & Co. has agreed that all Propecia lawsuits filed in federal district courts throughout the United States by men who experienced sexual problems after using their hair-loss drug should be consolidated before one judge for pretrial proceedings.
Merck Prefers New Jersey
Merck has suggested that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation should transfer all cases to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, where 41 of the 53 lawsuits over Propecia have already been filed.
Some plaintiffs proposed that the Propecia MDL be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, or, in the alternative, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Merck’s attorneys claim that moving the cases to the Eastern District of New York, or the Western District of Washington, would be inefficient because the courts lack familiarity with issues already addressed in a number of the cases.
Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is expected to hear arguments on the consolidation of the lawsuits over Propecia at a hearing scheduled for March 29, 2012 in San Diego, California.
It appears that all parties agree that centralizing the Propecia cases as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, would serve the convenience of the parties, prevent duplicative discovery and avoid conflicting pretrial rulings. However, the MDL panel will have to determine what is the most appropriate transfer jurisdiction.
What is the problem with Propecia?
Propecia (finasteride) is approved for the treatment of male pattern baldness. It is a low-dose version of Proscar, approved in 1992 for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Men who took the hair loss formula say that Merck failed to warn consumers of the risks of long-term erectile dysfunction from Propecia, as well as loss of libido, infertility, anxiety, depression and other problems.
In the United States, Merck has suggested warned that the sexual side effects of Propecia are temporary, indicating that cases observed during clinical trials resolved after users stopped taking the medication.
Merck has different European warning
Merck has been forced to provide additional warnings to men in certain other countries, indicating that post-marketing reports have indicated that some men experience sexual problems that persist.