The makers of Viagra -- the “little blue pill” used to treat erectile dysfunction -- are now subject to new multidistrict litigation (MDL) that has been established in Northern California to handle a number of cases charging that the drug causes melanoma. The MDL was established in April 2016 and currently has 26 pending lawsuits.

In December 2015, Pfizer agreed that MDL coordination was appropriate to handle new litigation over Viagra. Pfizer introduced Viagra in 1998 and it is believed that over 35 million American men have taken the drug. Currently, Viagra has approximately 45% market share in the U.S. for ED drugs.

Like other ED drugs, Viagra works to inhibit the secretion of an enzyme known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (“PDE5”). PDE5 is responsible for degrading cyclic guanosine monophosphate (“cGMP”), which then allows for greater blood flow to the penis and provides the ability to maintain an erection.

However, this degradation process can also lead to cell mutation within the body, which can lead to the development of cancer, particularly malignant melanoma. A study of more than 25,000 patients over a 10-year period published in the June 2014 Journal of the American Medical Association showed an 84% increased risk of developing malignant melanoma for patients that took Viagra.

There are currently lawsuits pending against Pfizer in federal courts in five states, and it is anticipated there could be hundreds more to come. The suits claim that Pfizer failed to adequately test the drug prior to its release, that the warning labels for Viagra are defective and that Viagra marketing materials are false and misleading, as well as other causes of action.

Pfizer was involved in MDL litigation over Viagra almost 10 years ago when a number of patients filed suit alleging that Viagra caused blindness and other eye injuries by restricting the flow of blood to the frontal portion of the optic nerve.

If you have suffered injuries from an unsafe or defective medical product, the experienced product liability legal team at Roberts & Roberts is here to help with compassionate, aggressive representation. Please call 800-248-6000 or contact us for a free consultation.

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