Lawsuits Mounting in Viagra Melanoma Litigation

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Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

Hundreds of Plaintiffs Allege Viagra Led to Deadly Cancer

The number of men who have brought lawsuits over allegations that they developed melanoma after taking Viagra (sildenafil citrate) continues to mount. As of May 2017. A total of 428 men are plaintiffs in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) that has been consolidated in: Viagra (Sildenafil Citrate) Product Liability Litigation lawsuit (3:16-md-02691) in the United States District Court for the Californian Northern District. The lawsuits similarly allege that Viagra, manufactured by Pfizer, is associated with a significant increase of melanoma risks. The lawsuit also alleges that Pfizer has known since the late 1990s that a risk of skin cancer was associated with Viagra use and chose against releasing that information.

Pfizer denies any tie between melanoma and Viagra and claims that there are more than 100 studies that prove Viagra is a safe; however, while there is no conclusive evidence to suggest Viagra causes melanoma, evidence suggests an association or connection between Viagra to melanoma. Viagra has been prescribed to 20 million men to treat issues with erectile dysfunction (ED).

The complaint also cites a Center for Drug Evaluation and Research joint clinical review, noting that other research has found links between the way in which Viagra works and how melanoma cells are developed.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed a “statistically significant” increase in the incidence of melanoma in men who took Viagra. The research data was obtained from a long-term study of 26,000 men between 1986 and 2000. The study revealed that 4.3 men out of every 1,000 who did not use Viagra developed melanoma, while 8.6 men out of every 1,000 who did use Viagra developed melanoma. The study was unable to find a cause, but did establish a connection between the drug and the aggressive cancer. The study also found that recent use of Viagra was tied to an 84 percent increased risk of developing melanoma or worsening existing melanoma. For men who used Viagra at any point previously, there was an increased 92 percent risk.

Various other studies suggest that Viagra may increase risks for developing melanoma, according to MDL allegations. A study published in 2012 in the Journal of Cell Biochemistry, revealed that PDE inhibitors may stimulate melanin synthesis, which increases the development of melanoma. Another study, published in Cell Reports in March 2016, reported that Viagra increases the growth of melanoma tumors. According to the researchers, cGMP assists melanoma cells in growing and spreading. Typically, cGMP is damaged by PDE5; however, because Viagra inhibits PDE5, cGMP does not break down and melanoma cells grow.

Viagra works by inhibiting the secretion of a specific enzyme known as phosphodiesterase 5, or PDE5. The enzyme prevents erection; however, the scientific hypothesis concerning an association between melanoma has been observed in research over the past several years that have revealed a finding that suppression of the PDE5 enzyme may also trigger the creation of melanoma cells. In fact, the master complaint in the California-based Viagra MDL makes this same assertion, leading experts to believe that the PDE5 inhibitor side effects may be tied with a diagnosis of melanoma. Plaintiffs allege that if they had been made aware of this connection, they would have either reduced their dependence on Viagra, minimized their sun exposure, or both, to minimize risk.

Plaintiffs also allege that Pfizer engaged in a “continuous, expensive, and aggressive” marketing campaign to promote Viagra globally, and have done so since sildenafil was initially approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998. “As a direct, proximate and legal result of Pfizer’s negligence and wrongful conduct, and the unreasonably dangerous and defective characteristics of the drug Viagra, individual plaintiffs suffered severe and permanent physical and emotional injuries,” the master complaint indicates. “These physical injuries have included melanoma, as well as the resulting treatment and surgeries necessitated by the skin cancer diagnosis.”

The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits involving alleged drug injuries, including melanoma associated with Viagra. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a drug injury lawsuit.

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is the deadliest of the skin cancers and, according to a previous The Associated Press (AP) report, more than three-quarters of all skin cancer fatalities involve melanoma. According to the report, approximately one person dies from melanoma every hour in the United States. In the United States, skin cancers are increasing. In fact, some five million people in the U.S. are treated for cancer annually. Of these, 63,000 cases are deemed serious, according to the News Ledger.

According to the Cancer Centers of America, melanoma begins in melanocytes, which are cells in the skin that produce the brown pigment, melanin. These cells darken when exposed to the sun, a protective response to protect the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

The American Cancer Society notes that, “unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, markings, or changes in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of melanoma or another type of skin cancer, or a warning that cancer might occur.” The key sign of melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color. Another important sign is a spot that looks different from any of the other spots on an individual’s skin. Other signs include:

  • One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • Edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • The color is not the same and may include different shades of brown or black and these may sometimes contain patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • The spot is larger than six millimeters across (about ¼ inch or the size of a pencil eraser); however melanomas may be even.
  • The mole changes in size, shape, or color.
  • A sore that does not heal.
  • Spread of pigment (color) from the border of a spot into the surrounding skin.
  • Redness or a new swelling beyond the border of the mole.
  • Change in sensation, including itchiness, tenderness, or pain.
  • Change in the surface of a mole, including scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump

Questions about Filing a Viagra Injury Lawsuit

If you or someone you know is interested in filing a lawsuit involving melanoma associated Viagra. Parker Waichman LLP offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).