The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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I took a Low-T drug and suffered a heart attack. I want to pursue a claim against the drug manufacturer but I don’t know what kind of claim I would pursue.
Sometimes injury compensation may be pursued under one of several theories of liability. You would most likely pursue a products liability claim against the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the Low-T drug you took.
Products liability claims require proof of four elements. First, you have to show you were actually injured. Second, you must show the Low-T drug lacked sufficient warnings or instructions (called defective marketing). Third, you must show that the lack of a proper warning of, say, the risk of heart attack, caused your specific injury. Fourth, you must show that you used the Low-T medication in the way it was intended to be used. This generally means taking the drug as prescribed.
Although you may have heard that Low-T drug lawsuits are being handled in federal court, there is no federal product liability law. The case may ultimately proceed in federal court, but the federal court would still rely on the state’s laws to decide the case.
Product liability cases are complex, so it’s important to talk to an attorney in your state who is knowledgeable about that state’s product liability laws.
I was prescribed a Low-T drug and suffered a serious adverse reaction because of other medications I was already taking. Do I have potential claim and who would I sue for my injuries?
Patients who are prescribed medications that are contraindicated based on the other medications they take for medical conditions may have a medical malpractice claim against the prescribing doctor, the pharmacist who filled the prescription, or the hospital where the patient was admitted (if applicable).
Patients have an obligation to tell their doctor and pharmacist about the medical conditions they have and the medications they are taking. In return, doctors and pharmacists have a duty to refrain from prescribing medications that are known to have an adverse reaction with any other medications the patient is taking. After all, taking the wrong combination of medications can be deadly.
Low-T drugs like AndroGel list medicines that are dangerous to mix with a Low-T drug. Among these medicines are insulin, medicines that decrease blood clotting (like Warfarin/Coumadin), and corticosteroids (like Prednisone). If a physician prescribes a patient a Low-T drug knowing that he takes medications that are explicitly contraindicated and does not properly warn the patient of the risks, the physician may be liable for breach of the duty of care.
If Low-T drugs are dangerous, why did the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approve them?
A company that wants to market a drug in the U.S. must get FDA approval first, but it’s not the FDA’s responsibility to test drugs. The company that wants the approval to market the drug is supposed to conduct lab tests on animals and humans called clinical trials to determine the safety and effectiveness of the drug. The company then submits the information it has collected to the FDA for review by a panel of doctors and other experts.
Despite all this “rigorous” testing, FDA-approved drugs, one study suggested that FDA-approved drugs lead to over 100,000 deaths per year in the U.S. How is this possible? Well, the problem may be that the FDA requires the drug manufacturer to do the testing. First, clinical trials are incredibly expensive, so only Big Pharma, as the biggest pharmaceutical companies are called, can really afford them. Second, it’s in the companies’ interests to have favorable results because they stand to make a lot of money on the new drug. This sometimes leads to less-than-honest reporting or even blatant corruption, as was the case with Johnson & Johnson and its drug Risperdal. To top that, some of the doctors and scientists who work for the FDA evaluating the safety of drugs either used to work for pharmaceutical companies or go on to work for them, and this may lessen their objectiveness.
Marcia Angell, MD, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine and author of The Truth About Drug Companies, stated:
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”
Ultimately, the FDA’s approval is only as good as the clinical trials that form the basis for it, and if those trials aren’t conducted ethically, or their results are skewed, the FDA may approve drugs that have potentially deadly side effects.
I am under 65 with a prior history coronary artery disease (heart disease). I took a Low-T medication and suffered a heart attack. Will my medical history affect my ability to pursue a claim against the pharmaceutical company that manufactured my Low-T medication?
It’s impossible to determine whether you have a claim without discussing all the details surrounding your use of Low-T, but the fact that you had a prior history of heart disease does not automatically mean you don’t have a claim.
A recent study showed that younger men with a history of heart disease who took a Low-T drug were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack after taking the drug. This means that younger men with a history of heart disease should obviously compare that risk to the possible benefits of Low-T treatment before taking the drug. If the pharmaceutical companies that make Low-T drugs had adequately warned men of that risk, you probably wouldn’t have a claim.
Many people think the advertisements for Low-T glossed over the risks of heart attack, though, which may have caused many men to take the drug without even knowing they were much more likely to suffer a heart attack. This study’s results are part of the reason the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating FDA approved Low-T products to see if they are as safe as the manufacturers originally claimed.
What is Low-T?
If you are a man, you have probably seen the ads on TV telling you to ask your doctor if you need a Low-T medication. The commercials list a slew of symptoms like fatigue, weakness, loss of interest in sex, and feeling down. If you have these symptoms, the ads proclaim, you may benefit from prescription Low-T treatment.
So just what is Low-T?
Low-T stands for “low testosterone”, which can be a medical condition in some men. Testosterone is essentially the male hormone. It’s responsible for the hair, the deep voice, the muscles (for some of us) and the male sex drive.
Men reach their peak testosterone levels before age 30, so around that age, many men experience a gradual loss in sex, which may be in part due to decreasing levels of testosterone. To a point, this is normal, but experiencing a total lack of sexual desire is not a normal part of aging.
Low-T treatment claims to increase sexual desire and stamina as well as give men more energy, strength, and aid in weight loss.
The devil is in the details, though. The list of ailments Low-T drug manufacturers advertise could just as easily be a list of ailments indicating diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, or even heart disease. It’s impossible to know if low testosterone is the culprit without first ruling out other health problems and following up with a blood test to check testosterone levels.
My husband took a medication to treat low-testosterone and died of a heart attack. He never had heart problems before, and I think the medication caused his death. Do I have a case against the manufacturer?
Possibly. Family members who believe their loved one died as a result of taking medications like AndroGel and Axiron to treat low-testosterone (Low-T) are filing wrongful death lawsuits across the country. Low-testosterone medications have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and virtually every day there are more reports of men who were seriously injured or died after taking prescription drugs like Axiron and AndroGel.
Low-T manufacturers marketed these drugs as safe for nearly every man. After studies linked the drugs to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots, the Food and Drug Administration initiated an investigation into their safety. Based on this information, families are filing lawsuits claiming Low-T manufacturers should have warned men about the risks of taking Low-T drugs.
If you think your loved one died as a result of taking a low-testosterone medication, you should consult an experienced wrongful death attorney. He or she can gather facts from you about your loved one’s death to help determine whether you have a claim against the manufacturer.
I heard about a Low T class action lawsuit on tv. Is this true that I can’t file a lawsuit for my injuries without joining the class action?
No, it’s not true. Low-testosterone (Low-T) lawsuits have been classified as a mass tort lawsuit and a federal judge has ordered that these lawsuits proceed in what is called multi-district litigation (MDL). In MDL, each person brings their own case and has their own attorney, but all the cases claiming the same injuries against the same manufacturers are heard by one federal judge.
Some individual lawsuits have already been filed in federal courts around the country and many more people will probably file lawsuits soon. A person can also file a suit in state court, but it may be removed to a federal district court in some circumstances.
There are over 14 different drugs to treat Low-T which are manufactured by different pharmaceutical companies. Here is a short list of the most-prescribed drugs and their manufacturers:
- Androderm - Watson Pharmaceuticals
- AndroGel – AbbieVie, Division of Abbot Laboratories
- Axiron – Eli Lilly
- Delatestryl – Endo Pharmaceutical Solutions, Inc.
- Fortesta – Endo Pharmaceuticals Solutions, Inc.
- Methitest – Global Pharmaceuticals, Division of Impax Laboratories Inc.
- Striant – Actient Pharmaceuticals; Columbia Laboratories, Inc.
- Testim - Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Testopel - Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Bartor Pharmacal (marketed by Slate Pharma)
- Testred - Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America LLC
If you took one of these Low-T medications and suffered a heart attack or stroke, you should consider talking to a personal injury attorney about the possibility of bringing a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company that manufactured your prescription drug.
I took a prescription testosterone medication and a few months later I had a heart attack. I think the prescription caused the heart attack. Do I have a claim?
When a manufacturer releases a drug into the market it knew or should have known possessed serious health risks, it should be held accountable for the injuries it causes. There are several prominent studies that found that testosterone drug therapy or “Low-T” treatments cause an increased risk of heart attack in middle-aged and older men. This means your suspicion that the medication you took may have caused your heart attack may be right. If you haven’t already spoken to a doctor about your concerns, you should do so as soon as possible.
The next step is to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer who can evaluate the information you have and talk to you about your specific circumstances. A lawyer can help you gather the records you need to make a claim. In addition to medical bills, you likely missed work and lost income because of your injury.
A successful claim against the manufacturer will result in compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. As more reports surface daily about men who were injured after using testosterone drug therapy, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before a court finds the manufacturers liable for the injuries. See our page on recent studies highlighting the risk of heart attack associated with testosterone drug therapy for more information.