SAN FRANCISCO – The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has consolidated what could be hundreds of claims against Pfizer for its alleged failure to warn Viagra users of the drug’s link to cancer.

In April, the panel moved 14 actions to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for pretrial proceedings. Attorneys for both sides filed position statements May 9. The plaintiffs also filed a motion to appoint lead counsel.

They proposed Ernest Cory, a personal injury lawyer with 35 years of experience. His firm, Cory Watson Attorneys, is in Birmingham, Alabama. He told the Northern California Record that the MDL could include more than 800 cases.

“I’ve been doing MDL work for a long time,” Cory said. "There’s always challenges in the coordination of litigation. But I’m very fortunate that, at least in this MDL, we put together a really good group of lawyers who have come together and will work together.

“Clearly, our biggest challenge will be the legal fight with Pfizer.”

Multidistrict litigation is a federal procedure designed to speed up complex civil cases filed in different districts that make the same allegations. The panel decided to centralize the claims against Pfizer for convenience and efficiency.

A pretrial conference is set for June 15.

Plaintiffs allege that Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, knew that the drug could cause or increase a person's chances of developing melanoma – skin cancer. The suit claims Pfizer failed to warn users and doctors of the risk.

More than 23 million men have been prescribed the drug, which treats erectile dysfunction. While there are other ED medications, Viagra accounts for 45 percent of the market.

The lawsuit cites a 2014 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine, which found that men who took Viagra were more likely to develop “invasive melanoma” compared to men in the study who weren’t using the medication.

“Pfizer has created a public health emergency,” the plaintiffs claim, according to court documents.

In its position statement, Pfizer countered that the plaintiffs’ claims, which started in 2015, lack scientific basis.

The study’s authors “‘acknowledged’ their study had ‘limitations’ and expressly stated the reported results could not ‘prove cause and effect’ and should not alter the clinical use of Viagra,” Pfizer claims.

The defendant goes on to say that Viagra is a well-studied medication and is regulated by agencies in the U.S. and in Europe. After the JAMA study was released, the European Medicines Agency (similar to the Food & Drug Administration), concluded that available data shows no “causal relationship” between Viagra and melanoma.

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Organizations in this Story

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Pfizer
235 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017-5703

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