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562 Propecia Sexual Side Effects Cases Said To Be Under Confidential Settlement
Mealey’s (April 10, 2018, 11:39 AM EDT) – BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A confidential master settlement agreement (MSA) for 562 Propecia injury cases was signed April 9, according to a letter by the parties to the New York federal judge overseeing the drug’s multidistrict litigation (In Re: Propecia [Finasteride] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2331, No. 12-md-2331, E.D. N.Y.).
(Letter available. Document #28-180419-002X.)
In a letter to U.S. Judge Brian Cogan of the Eastern District of New York, the MDL Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and defendant Merck & Co. Inc. say the MSA will resolve 562 claims in the MDL and in New Jersey’s Propecia multicounty litigation in the Middlesex County Superior Court.
The parties tell the court that the terms and conditions of the settlement are confidential. They say they will ask for permission on April 10 to file the MSA and associated exhibits under seal.
The parties also say they will submit an ex parte motion, brief and proposed allocation plan to the court, along with a proposed order approving the allocation plan.
Once the court approves the allocation plan, the parties say they will request an order from the court with a deadline, including an evaluation date and a final opt-out deadline.
Finally, the parties request a stay of Propecia litigation, including briefing in four bellwether trials, through Aug. 15. They say that will give them time to evaluate what claims will participate in the settlement.
The number of cases expected to be settled is only part of the number listed on court dockets and in a Merck Securities and Exchange Commission filing. As of March 15, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation listed 884 active cases in the MDL, down from a high of 1,178.
Courts List 1,041 Active Cases
As of April 2, the Middlesex County Superior Court listed 157 active cases. Combined with the MDL, that would account for 1,041 active cases, roughly double the number listed as being settled by the MSA.
In its Feb. 27 Form 10-Q filed with the SEC, Merck said that as of Dec. 31, there were 775 pending lawsuits alleging injuries from Propecia or Proscar, another Merck drug with the same active ingredient.
When the MDL was created in 2012, Propecia plaintiffs alleged that the drug caused persistent sexual side effects in men who took it to treat male pattern baldness. Plaintiffs allege that the side effects continued even after they discontinued Propecia.
Additional Side Effects
According to Merck’s Form 10-Q, there are about 20 cases in which men allege that Propecia or Proscar caused prostate cancer, testicular cancer or male breast cancer.
In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration approved Proscar-brand finasteride to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) in men. Some patients with male pattern baldness noticed that they regrew hair while on Proscar, so Merck in 1997 got approval to also sell finasteride under the name Propecia.
The MDL judge in 2016 selected four cases for bellwether trials, but the trial plan was vacated in January 2017. The court later ordered the first bellwether tranche to be ready for trial by March 2018.
The MDL has been marked by numerous filings under seal.
The Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee is represented by Timothy J. Becker of Johnson Becker in St. Paul, Minn.
Merck is represented by Charles F. Morrow of Butler Snow in Memphis, Tenn.