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Propecia Lawsuit

Propecia LawyerSince its 1997 FDA approval to treat male pattern hair loss, Propecia has been used by over one million men to combat this common sign of aging.  While the drug remains highly effective in preventing or reversing hair loss, unfortunately it also can cause serious sexual side effects.  To date, hundreds of men have filed Propecia lawsuits seeking compensation for these painful and embarrassing complications.

Product liability lawyers at Ellis Law specialize in representing those who have been injured by the very drugs they take in order to treat their illnesses.  Over the years we have helped hundreds of victims obtain fair compensation for the side effects and complications caused by dangerous drugs.

We offer free and confidential consultations to those who have suffered sexual side effects after taking Propecia.

Sexual side effects charged in Propecia lawsuits

Propecia is the brand name that Merck & Co. assigned to its finasteride 1 mg. pills.  Originally finasteride was used to treat men with enlarged prostate glands.  When the manufacturer learned that the drug increased hair growth in 80% of patients, Merck asked the FDA to approve its use to treat male pattern baldness.

The manufacturer told the agency that patients in clinical trials had reported Propecia sexual side effects.  But Merck claimed that sexual problems disappeared in those patients who stopped treatment, as well as in most patients who continued to take the drug. Relatively few patients participating in the trials reported sexual problems:  36 of the 945 men taking Propecia (3.8%) and 20 of the 934 who received the placebo (2.1%).

The FDA approved Propecia to treat male pattern hair loss in 1997.  Almost immediately the agency began receiving reports of sexual dysfunction following Propecia use, and in some cases, these side effects persisted even after treatment stopped.

Reported Propecia side effects included:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced semen production
  • Decreased libido
  • Lowered sexual sensitivity
  • Infertility

Between 1998 and 2011, the FDA received 421 reports of “serious adverse events” involving Propecia sexual side effects.  In 59 cases (14% of the total number of incidents), men reported that the sexual complications lasted for more than 3 months after they stopped taking the drug.  As a result of this evaluation, in 2011 the FDA ordered Merck to add to Propecia’s label a warning that men could continue to suffer erectile dysfunction even after stopping treatment.

In 2012, the FDA ordered Merck to include still more warnings on the Propecia label.  Starting in April 2012, the label was required to caution physicians and patients that “libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders [had] continued after discontinuation of the drug.”  The new label also advised that the FDA had received reports of “infertility and/or poor semen quality that normalized or improved after drug discontinuation.”

European regulators warn of permanent erectile dysfunction

Drug regulators in Europe also investigated reports of Propecia sexual problems that lasted after treatment stopped.  The Swedish Medical Products Agency started evaluating such incidents in 2006.  Two years later, Merck added to its Swedish label a warning that sexual side effects had persisted even after men stopped taking the drug.  In August 2009, the Swedish Medical Products Agency reported that using Propecia could cause permanent erectile dysfunction.

Despite this, Merck waited another two years before first advising patients in the U.S. that erectile dysfunction could continue even after men stopped using the drug.  The manufacturer did not warn American men of additional persistent sexual problems until 2012.  Merck has yet to advise its U.S. patients of the Swedish agency’s conclusion that Propecia use can cause permanent erectile dysfunction.

Propecia lawsuits allege sexual side effects

Hundreds of men have filed lawsuits against Merck & Co., charging that they suffered sexual side effects as a result of using Propecia.  The cases were filed in federal court in at least six states.  In April 2012, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) centralized all the federal Propecia lawsuits before a single judge in the Eastern District of New York.

To date the MDL includes over 400 individual lawsuits.  The cases have been centralized for pretrial proceedings in order to ensure consistency for Propecia’s victims and its manufacturer.  Multidistrict litigation also helps the court to avoid repetitive work. Once all parties have supplied the requested records and other evidence, one or more “bellwether” trials will take place.

In addition to the federal MDL, over 200 Propecia lawsuits have been filed in state court in New Jersey, where Merck is headquartered.  These cases, too, have been coordinated for pretrial proceedings in New Jersey Superior Court in Middlesex County.

New lawsuits may be added to either the federal MDL or the state proceedings in New Jersey.  Because strict deadlines apply in personal injury cases like these, it is essential that victims contact an experienced Propecia lawyer without delay.  Ellis Law stands ready to advise men with questions about their options for legal recourse in the wake of adverse Propecia side effects.  Our initial consultations are always confidential and free of charge.

Duration of sexual dysfunction

In July 2012, an endocrinologist affiliated with George Washington University and its Medical School published a study entitled “Persistent Sexual Side Effects of Finasteride: Could They Be Permanent?”  Michael S. Irwig, M.D. evaluated 52 men whose sexual side effects persisted for at least 3 months after they stopped taking Propecia.  According to Dr. Irwig, “[a]ll subjects were otherwise healthy young men without any baseline sexual dysfunction, medical conditions, psychiatric conditions, or use of oral prescription medications prior to taking finasteride for male pattern hair loss.”

Dr. Irwig reassessed the men after 9 to 16 months.  He found that 96% continued to suffer persistent sexual side effects, and 89% were sexually dysfunctional.  Tellingly, he noted:  “Neither the length of finasteride use nor the duration of the sexual side effects correlated to changes in scores of sexual dysfunction.”

The article concluded that “[i]n most men who developed persistent sexual side effects (≥3 months) despite the discontinuation of finasteride, the sexual dysfunction continued for many months or years.”

In the 17 years since Propecia was approved to treat male pattern baldness, evidence of its sexual side effects has only mounted. Claimants say their complications have persisted even after cessation of the drug.  Now there are strong indications that, once a man experiences sexual side effects from Propecia, his problems may be permanent.

Confidential case review with a Propecia lawyer

In the face of this devastating prognosis, men who have suffered sexual side effects after taking the hair loss drug are likely to have many questions and concerns.   This uncertainty makes it even more important to consult an expert Propecia attorney.   Those of us at Ellis Law have worked with hundreds of people over the years who wonder:  will my injuries subside?  Can I afford medical treatment?  How will I support my family?

We understand our clients’ pain and appreciate their concern for the future.  We know how to help.  That’s why we encourage you to contact us today so we can review your situation carefully and confidentially, and advise you about your legal options. You may call 1-800-INJURED or fill out the form on this page.

  1. FDA, Questions and Answers:  Finasteride Label Changes, April 11, 2012, http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/informationbydrugclass/ucm299754.htm
  2. Medical News Today,Propecia (finasteride) Permanent Sexual Dysfunction Risk, July 26, 2012, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247858.php
  3. Irwig MS. Persistent sexual side effects of finasteride: Could they be permanent? J Sex Med 2012;9:2927–2932, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02846.x/abstract