Thursday, January 1, 2015

Per Commenter Request: A Status Update -- On Merck's Propecia®/Proscar® Litigation

Overnight, an anonymous commenter asked about the status of this long running federal products liability litigation -- over alleged sexual side effects from Merck's finasteride, branded as Propecia® or Proscar®.

At the moment, the two sides are arguing over whether the actual source files of certain documents Merck says are attorney client privileged need to be provided to the plaintiffs -- or just a spreadsheet/log (like this), summarizing what makes them privileged, their dates, and generally to whom they were addresssed, and from whom they were received. The next status update on this back and forth looks to be in the federal courthouse in the Eastern District of New York, on January 20 15, 2015. [Per our commenters, there is also a case management conference in state court in New Jersey, on January 14, 2015.] From the most recent SEC filing, then (at page 22):

. . . .As of September 30, 2014, approximately 1,245 lawsuits involving a total of approximately 1,515 plaintiffs (in a few instances spouses are joined as plaintiffs in the suits) who allege that they have experienced persistent sexual side effects following cessation of treatment with Propecia and/or Proscar have been filed against Merck.

Approximately 45 of the plaintiffs also allege that Propecia or Proscar has caused or can cause prostate cancer or male breast cancer. The lawsuits have been filed in various federal courts and in state court in New Jersey. The federal lawsuits have been consolidated for pretrial purposes in a federal multidistrict litigation before Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York.

The matters pending in state court in New Jersey have been consolidated before Judge Jessica Mayer in Middlesex County. In addition, there is one matter pending in federal court in Kansas and one matter pending in federal court in California. The Company intends to defend against these lawsuits. . . .

And so, it may be quite a while yet before anything remotely resembling a resolution -- for either side -- occurs here. There may be settlement talks underway, but we see nothing in the public record updating on those, either.

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