Propecia lawsuits have been filed in recent years because of men who suffered both physical and emotional side effects of this hair-loss medication. Merck first brought this drug onto the market in 1997 and it was wildly popular. The company has earned billions from this hair-growing drug, which can also prevent hair loss and thinning.
Serious complications and risks have since been found to be associated with Propecia and users are hitting back at Merck with lawsuits and serious allegations. Issues with sexual dysfunction, emotional problems resulting from this side effect, and even the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer in male patients have been found to be too common. Plaintiffs in cases against Merck believe the company did not do enough to warn them of the risks and even of lying to them about how long the problems would persist.
How Propecia Is Used
Merck originally developed Propecia, generic name finasteride, to treat prostate enlargement in men. The original name for the drug was Proscar and it was approved for this use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1992. In clinical trials, Merck found that a side effect of finasteride was hair growth, which led the company to begin investigating the possibility of using it for treating male pattern baldness. The trials were successful and Propecia was born. Proscar is given in five milligram doses to treat prostate enlargement, while Propecia is dosed at one milligram.
Finasteride is only for use in men. It inhibits an enzyme that results in lowering the amount of a hormone that leads to the production of testosterone. At the higher dose it is effective at treating the symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland, and at lower doses it prevents hair loss and actually regrows hair. Although effective, this drug has since been found to cause some serious problems.
Prostate and Breast Cancers
A serious, but not common risk of using finasteride is cancer. The FDA issued a warning about the risk of prostate cancer in 2011. Trial data shows that there is a small, but significant risk that a man on Proscar or Propecia could develop high-grade prostate cancer. This is a particular type of prostate cancer that is rare, but serious and deadly. High-grade prostate cancer is aggressive, it develops quickly, and it spreads easily to other parts of the body.
Also a risk for being on Propecia is breast cancer. Not all patients realize that it is possible for men to get breast cancer, but this type of cancer can be very serious. Finasteride in higher doses may enlarge a man’s breasts and increase the risk of developing this cancer. As with high-grade prostate cancer, this risk is low, but significant and very serious.
The most common and serious adverse event that has been reported with use of Propecia is sexual dysfunction. Although it had been on the market for many years already, the FDA announced in 2012 that finasteride products needed to include warning labels about sexual dysfunction. The reason the warning came so late was that the FDA received newer information about how long the dysfunction may persist.
Prior to this warning the risks of sexual dysfunction were known, but not necessarily how long the problem would last. The FDA had received a number of reports of patients who experienced sexual dysfunction and stopped taking the medication. These patients found that the problem persisted for months after discontinuing Propecia, and for some persisted much longer than that.
Some of the symptoms of sexual dysfunction that men have experienced include erectile dysfunction, infertility, reduced sexual sensation, reduced libido, and poor semen quality. To experience these symptoms, even long after stopping use of Propecia, has proven to be more than just a physical issue for men. The persistent problems have caused emotional harm, loss of self-esteem, and damaged relationships.
One study, published in 2012 provided some of the strongest evidence for how much harm Propecia could cause to men who experience sexual dysfunction because of it. The study found that most men who had sexual dysfunction, continued to have symptoms after discontinuing the drug, for at least three months. Some of these patients even experienced symptoms lasting for years later.
Because of the adverse effects of Propecia, mainly the symptoms of sexual dysfunction, hundreds of men have filed lawsuits against Merck. Many of these were transferred to a New York court in 2012 and involved lawsuits in which men complained of persistent and permanent sexual dysfunction. There are also other cases awaiting trial in New Jersey, the state in which Merck is headquartered. While no settlements have yet been reached, plaintiffs are hopeful that Merck will pay for failing to warn them of the serious risks of using Propecia.
Some of the individual examples of plaintiffs and their stories include a man who filed his suit in Washington. He said he started taking Propecia in 2008 and by 2012 when the lawsuit was filed, was still experiencing sexual dysfunction. Another plaintiff in Illinois sued because of persistent sexual dysfunction. His wife is also claiming loss of consortium because her relationship has suffered as a result of the side effects. She also claims pain, suffering, and emotional anguish over the experience.
Why File a Propecia Lawsuit
There are many reasons why plaintiffs are filing lawsuits against Merck. Most revolve around the symptoms of sexual dysfunction and the persistent nature of those symptoms. More specifically plaintiffs are claiming that Merck did not use reasonable care in testing Propecia, that Merck should have been aware of the side effect and how damaging they could be, that Merck failed to warn patients adequately, and that the company even concealed information about risks.
Sexual dysfunction may not seem like the most serious of medical problems until it happens to you, especially when it persists. Men who have suffered because of Propecia not only face expensive medical bills; they also have suffered from mental and emotional pain and suffering, trauma, lost relationships, and even mental health conditions like depression. Suing Merck over these issues not only brings justice to the plaintiffs, it may provide them with money that helps to make up, at least a little, for the suffering.
If you have experienced the adverse effects of Propecia and believe that Merck was negligent, talk with a lawyer about your legal options. You may have a strong case to make to a judge or jury, and it is only a matter of time before Merck is forced to come to some sort of conclusion, hopefully a monetary settlement. With a lawyer on your side, you have the best chance of getting the compensation you deserve.