Every day the role of Merck in the public health disaster involving Propecia continues to raise grave concerns over the character and morality of Merck, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical conglomerates.
It is vitally important to note in any analysis of Merck’s conduct involving Propecia that Merck failed for years to alert American doctors and patients to the risk of lasting sexual side effects associated with even short-term Propecia use. Even after the Swedish Medical Products Agency concluded in 2009 that Propecia could lead to permanent erectile dysfunction, Merck changed the label to reflect this concern in the United Kingdom and in Italy, but importantly choose not to alter the warning to the U.S. label.
It took nothing short of the medical community forcing Merck’s hand to prompt any change in the Propecia label. This occurred in 2011 when a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine determined that sexual side effects could persist even after the patient stopped taking the medication. That same month Merck, faced with overwhelming pressure to finally come clean with overwhelming reports of permanent sexual dysfunction, finally added to their U.S. warning label that Propecia erectile dysfunction may continue after the medication was stopped. And it was not until April 2012 that Merck updated Propecia’s warning label to include reports of libido, ejaculation and orgasm disorders. Sadly, these too-little-too-late label changes do nothing for the thousands of men who continue to suffer from sexual dysfunction after using Propecia.
A little background on Propecia: The male pattern baldness drug Propecia (finasteride) was approved in 1997. By 1999, manufacturer Merck was spending a reported $125 million on direct-to-consumer advertising to appeal to men suffering from premature baldness. But the drug turned out to cause sexual side effects, including erectile dysfunction, impaired libido, and reduced sperm count, as well as non-sexual side effects like cognitive impairment. Although the initial label for Propecia stated that side effects were rare and temporary, studies have shown that as many as 39% of men experienced side effects from the drug, and 50% of those men continued to suffer side effects even after they stopped using it, for an average of 40 months after discontinuing Propecia use. From 1997 to 2010, the FDA received more than 400 adverse event reports (AERS) from consumers who claimed to have suffered from sexual dysfunction, and nearly 60 men reported that their complications lasted longer than three months after they stopped taking the drug.
The most disturbing statistic is that 20% of the men were still experiencing side effects five years after stopping use of Propecia.
For men suffering from sexual side effects after using Propecia, it is important to note that Propecia lawsuits are available to help. There is a New Jersey State Propecia lawsuit consolidation, overseen by Judge Jessica R. Mayer in the Superior Court of Middlesex County. Federal cases involving Propecia sexual side effects were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) under U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York.
About the Firm: The Michael Brady Lynch Firm is a trial firm with a focus on pharmaceutical mass tort cases involving SSRI and Anti-Seizure Medication Birth Defects such as Lexapro, Zoloft, Effexor, Prozac, Celexa, Paxil, Depakote and Topamax, as well as Pradaxa Internal Bleeding, Propecia sexual dysfunction, Actos Bladder Cancer and Fosamax Femur Fractures, and medical device cases including DePuy Hip and Trans-Vaginal Mesh cases. Contact us today if you or someone you know has experienced side effects involving these products.