An Illinois jury recently awarded an Oregon couple $150 million in punitive damages after the plaintiffs successfully proved that AbbVie Inc. and Abbott Labs were liable for fraudulent misrepresentation in its marketing for AndroGel, a testosterone replacement drug that caused the 54-year-old man’s severe cardiac problems and subsequent heart attack. No compensatory damages were awarded in the case, a highly unusual outcome that legal experts have said will likely be overturned.
Low T Litigation
The lawsuit is one of over 6,000 that have been filed by consumers claiming that AndroGel use led to serious heart-related side effects. In 2014 the lawsuits were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Illinois, and include cases brought against Besins and Eli Lilly along with AbbVie.
The plaintiffs in the cases make common allegations against the drug manufacturers, including negligence, fraud, and that they engaged in misleading advertisements targeting middle-aged men and featuring questionable tests for low testosterone, which included the symptoms of actual low testosterone disorders along with the normal effects of aging
What is AndroGel?
AndroGel is a topical medication approved for the treatment of male patients who have been diagnosed with hypogonadism, commonly known as low testosterone or “Low T.” In 2013, AbbView and other testosterone supplement manufacturers started an aggressive multi-million dollar advertising campaign aimed at middle-aged men featuring television ads aired during football games.
The advertisements claimed that the testosterone supplements were also effective treatments for common ailments of middle age, such as lethargy, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, low self-confidence, and depression. Although there was scientific evidence to support AndoGel as a treatment for hypogonadism, there was little factual evidence to prove that it could successfully treat the other conditions it was being advertised for.