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Propecia Peyronie’s Disease Lawsuit Filed

A Propecia Peyronie’s disease lawsuit has been filed against Merck & Co, Inc. by a Madison County, AL husband and wife.  The plaintiffs claim that Merck either knew, or should have known, that hair loss drug Propecia can cause serious side effects when used as intended, including cognitive impairment, sexual dysfunction and depression.  The plaintiffs seek compensatory and special damages form Merck, as well as punitive damages because Merck allegedly demonstrated reckless indifference to the health and well-being of the public.

The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff suffered cognitive impairment, as well as severe sexual dysfunction and Peyronie’s disease after taking Propecia to treat male pattern hair loss.  The plaintiffs allege that these side effects continued after the use of Propecia was discontinued and that both husband and wife are experiencing ongoing losses including diminished quality of life and a loss of their sexual relationship.

Propecia risks and dangers

Propecia is a brand name for a medication called finasteride, which was initially developed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia but which was approved in 1997 as a treatment for male pattern hair loss. Merck began to promote the drug as a treatment for baldness, advertising the drug as a treatment that is safe with limited risk.  The pharmaceutical company did acknowledge on its label that a limited number of users could experience sexual dysfunction and other potential side effects, including depression.

The plaintiff was first prescribed Propecia in 2001, and became a regular user of medication after this time.  When prescribed the medication, he was unaware of the full extent of the risk he was taking on. It was not until 2006 that the Swedish Medical Products Agency investigated reports that sexual dysfunction was continuing among patients taking Finasteride even after the use of the medication was discontinued.

In 2008, the label of the drug was changed in Sweden to reflect the risk of lasting sexual dysfunction and in 2009, the Swedish Medical Products Agency concluded the erectile dysfunction could be permanent.

The label was changed not only in Sweden, where researchers had revealed problems, but also in the United Kingdom and Italy as well. However, despite updating the Propecia label nine separate times within the United States, Merck had not yet alerted U.S. users of the potential risk of permanent sexual dysfunction by mid-2011.

Merck updated the Propecia website to provide a warning in April of 2011, and the FDA announced that the process had begun to change the Propecia label in 2012. However, this change has not yet been made, and it comes far too late for the plaintiff, who has experienced lasting side effects from the drug, including cognitive impairment.

Propecia cognitive impairment leads to lawsuit

The plaintiffs do not believe that Merck provided adequate warning about the serious risks to patients in the U.S., despite changing the warning labels on the medication in Europe. The fact that the company changed these labels could provide proof demonstrating that Merck knew, or should have known, about the side effects of Propecia. Yet, according to the lawsuit, the company continued to hide those side effects from the public.

In their Propecia Peyronie’s disease lawsuit, the plaintiffs have alleged multiple legal grounds to hold Merck accountable, including strict liability, negligence, breach of implied and express warranties, fraud, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

  1. Men's Journal, The (Not So Hard) Truth About Hair Loss Drugs,

  2. Food and Drug Administration, Questions and Answers: Finasteride Label Changes,