Lawsuits Involving Viagra and the Alleged Link to an Increased Risk of Melanoma

0
894
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

Recently there have been developments in the multi-district litigation (MDL) concerning the erectile dysfunction (ED) drug Viagra. In the suits, plaintiffs allege that Viagra use increases the risk of developing melanoma. Federal Judge Seeborg, appointed to handle the Viagra cases, held his first hearing in San Francisco on June 15, 2016. A second hearing was held on August 10, 2016.

The August 2016 hearing included a discussion of how to handle cases that involve “mixed use,” where a plaintiff used another pharmaceutical, such as Cialis or Levitra, along with Viagra. The manufacturers of these ED drugs are not included in this multi district litigation.

Viagra’s manufacturer, Pfizer, was involved in some lawsuits nearly 10 years ago that were filed by patients who developed non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). NAION causes vision loss due to insufficient blood supply to the optic nerve. There were approximately 134 lawsuits, consolidated in an MDL based in Minneapolis, filed by patients who had experienced vision loss attributed to taking Viagra.

In the litigation involving allegations of melanoma and Viagra use, there are currently approximately 50 Viagra lawsuits filed, but it is anticipated that the litigation will ultimately grow to exceed 500 to 1,000 individual personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against Pfizer on behalf of patients who developed melanoma skin cancer allegedly after ingesting Viagra. There are also about 70 individual claims filed in state court in St. Louis, Missouri on behalf of cancer patients.

Viagra was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998. Plaintiffs maintain that Pfizer knew or should have known the potential risks of developing melanoma due the use of Viagra. The link between Viagra and melanoma is a complex one. Plaintiffs have argued that scientific studies have documented that Viagra blocks the secretion of PDE5, which leads to an increase in levels of cGMP (cycle guanosine monophosphate) in the body. The presence of high levels of cGMP has been found by scientists to cause cell mutation and the creation and proliferation of melanoma cells.

The litigation is currently in an initial discovery phase which usually lasts 12 to 24 months. Judge Seeborg has scheduled the next Viagra MDL conference for October 14, 2016.