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Massachusetts Plaintiff Files Propecia Lawsuit Requesting $10 Million

propecia pillsIn one of the more recent Propecia lawsuits, a Massachusetts man filed a case against manufacturer Merck & Co., Inc. on January 8, 2012 alleging that he suffered from severe side effects as a result of taking the anti-baldness medication. He states that these side effects have damaged his quality of life and requests $10 million in damages. He brings counts of breach of warranties, fraud, violation of the New York consumer protection from deceptive acts and practices law, unjust enrichment, negligence, inadequate warning, and defective design.

The case is moving forward in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York joining other plaintiffs who seek to gain compensation for problems after taking Propecia.

Merck accused of downplaying potential Propecia side effects

Propecia was approved by the FDA in December of 1997 to treat male pattern hair loss. Containing 1 mg of finasteride, this medication is a lower dose version of the Merck manufactured Proscar. Proscar contains 5 mg of finasteride and is marketed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, also referred to as an enlarged prostate.

The plaintiff’s attorney claims that Merck spent $60 million in direct-to-consumer advertising to promote Propecia in 1998. In 1999, they spent $125 million. This advertising blitz did not include warnings to consumers of possible Propecia sexual side effects.

Merck, until April 2012, stated that fewer than 2 percent of men taking the drug suffered from sexual dysfunction. They also said that these side effects subsided after they ceased using the medication. In addition, they asserted that the side effects stopped in the majority of men who continued taking Propecia.

Label changes made in Europe, but not the U.S.

The product warnings were adjusted in Sweden to advise users that some men had reported sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction that persisted after they stopped taking Propecia. U.S. consumers did not receive a similar warning.

The Swedish Medical Products Agency, in August of 2009, found that use of Propecia could result in permanent erectile dysfunction. The warnings were altered to inform consumers in the United Kingdom of this possibility in Decemeber 2009. They did so in Italy in March 2010. The warning was still unchanged in the United States.

Studies indicate finasteride can cause sexual dysfunction

Studies have shown that finasteride could result in persistent sexual side effects. A study by Wessels, et al., in 2003 showed that 50-59 percent of men who suffered from sexual side effects following use of the medication regained normal function after they stopped taking the drug. Subsequent reports by Irwig, et al. stated that the symptoms could be persistent. A 2011 article stated that over 90 percent of subjects suffered from sexual problems.

Plaintiff claims multiple Propecia side effects

The Massachusetts plaintiff states that he was prescribed Propecia in August 2010 to treat his male pattern hair loss and used the drug for approximately 15 months.

Before he took Propecia, he states that he never had any sexual side effects or mental/emotional problems. He alleges that he began suffering from sexual dysfunction in the form of orgasm disorder, penile atrophy, anxiety, depression, lowered libido, decreased semen output, and erectile dysfunction. He claims he will require medical care, hospital rehabilitation and pharmaceutical costs for the duration of his life.