After years of litigation and a series of legal decisions that never really gave either side any clear advantage, the battle over testosterone therapy and the methods used to market it may finally be coming to a close.
Of the nearly 7,000 lawsuits filed by men claiming that their use of testosterone therapy led to dangerous complications including heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots, more than half were against Androgel manufacturer AbbVie. Created as a gel to be applied to the patient’s chest and arms, Androgel led the market in testosterone replacement therapies. AbbVie has sold billions of dollars of the product, largely due to an incredibly successful off-label marketing campaign touting testosterone therapy as a fountain of youth for men seeking to fight the natural processes of aging.
The “condition” was named “low-T” and ads touting testosterone’s ability to revitalize aging men’s stamina, libido, and overall quality of life became commonplace. The lawsuits claim, however, that the ads did nothing to warn those same men about the dangers of using such a product for a “condition” that, in fact, wasn’t really a condition at all. Low-T was manufactured by the drug companies simply as a way of selling a product for a use other than what it had originally been approved to treat.
In Androgel’s case, that condition was testosterone deficiency as a function of hypogonadism. As it turns out, however, there’s a lot more money in preying on men’s fears of getting older. Sales of Androgel went through the roof after the Low-T campaign took hold and men started “asking their doctor if testosterone therapy was right for them.”
The ensuing legal battles led to victories being claimed by both sides. Some verdicts found AbbVie and other testosterone therapy manufacturers responsible for a variety of injuries as well as negligence in the way they were marketing their products. Other verdicts would side with the manufacturers.
In the end, it was this exact “back-and-forth” nature that led to conditions being right for a settlement. As one attorney familiar with the litigation noted, “no side has the upper hand, really, in terms of predicting the outcome of litigation. Without a consistent pattern, that promotes settlement.” The terms of any settlement reached with AbbVie will be confidential.