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Propecia Erectile Dysfunction Lawsuit Added to Multidistrict Litigation

A Propecia erectile dysfunction lawsuit was just filed on behalf of a New Mexico man on March 29, 2013 against the makers of the hair loss medication. The case has been joined with the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn). The lawsuit claims include that the defendants, Merck & Co., Inc. and Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., the makers of Propecia (finasteride) knew that the drug could lead to sexual dysfunction, sometimes persistent, but neglected to warn patients and physicians.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation formed the Propecia MDL in April 2012. Multidistrict litigations are put in place to centralize lawsuits alleging similar injuries concerning the same product to improve the efficiency of pre-trial proceedings and reduce redundancies, duplicative discovery, and inconsistent rulings.

Plaintiff alleges persistent Propecia side effects

The man was 48 years old in 2000 when he was prescribed and began treatment with Propecia for androgenic alopecia, which is commonly known as male pattern hair loss. He stopped taking Propecia around 2005. The plaintiff alleges that he began to suffer and was diagnosed with erectile dysfunction and related sexual dysfunction. Although he stopped taking Propecia long ago, he alleges that he continues to suffer from adverse side effects that include sexual dysfunction, cognitive impairment, and depression. These ongoing symptoms compelled the plaintiff to contact a Propecia lawyer.

The Propecia erectile dysfunction lawsuit also alleges that neither he nor his physician received adequate warning about the risk of persistent and/or permanent injury that continued even after ceasing the medication. The plaintiff’s Propecia lawyer indicates that the man requires ongoing treatment and regular medical monitoring; has sustained, and will continue to sustain,severe emotional distress either due to physical injury or a rational fear of physical injury; severe and debilitating injuries; pain and suffering; and suffered economic losses and other damages, according to the lawsuit. Medical care alleged in the lawsuit includes rehabilitation and treatments for depression, emotional distress, and anxiety.

The plaintiff also alleges that when he took the hair loss medication, he believed the drug was safe based on Merck’s claims of Propecia’s safety in its marketing and advertising campaign.

Propecia has long been linked to sexual dysfunction

Propecia received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 1997 as a treatment for male pattern hair loss in a 1-milligram dose. In a larger dose—5 mg—the drug, known as Proscar, was approved for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), according to the Propecia erectile dysfunction lawsuit. Merck did not warn that use of Propecia could lead to increased risks for persistent adverse side effects that include sexual dysfunction and has long maintained that less than two percent of men taking Propecia suffered from sexual side effects and that any such side effects would stop when the drug was stopped.

In 2008, Merck changed Propecia product warnings to its products sold in Sweden that stated, in part, “In addition, the following have been reported in post-marketing use: persistence of erectile dysfunction after discontinuation of treatment with Propecia.” In response, in 2009, the Swedish Medical Products Agency concluded that Propecia could lead to permanent sexual dysfunction. Merck followed by changing Propecia product label warnings in the United Kingdom with similar wording. Merck has not made any such changes to United States products.

The lawsuit also cites studies suggesting that Propecia sexual side effects might occur in about 39 percent of men taking the drug, with only about 50 percent of those users experiencing restoration of their sexual dysfunction after ceasing the drug. Meanwhile, research confirmed Sweden’s findings; recent research revealed that sexual side effects did not always disappear in all patients who stopped taking Propecia. In fact, other research revealed that the average length of time for persistent Propecia side effects was 40 months.

Although Merck has made nine label changes to the Propecia label in the United States, none of those changes includes warnings about potentially permanent side effects, according to the FDA. In fact, the agency announced changes to the drug’s label in 2012 to include information on persistent sexual side effects; however, the changes have not yet been publicly made.