While the pattern baldness drug Propecia has generated about $400 a year for Merck, a growing number of men have sufferered serious side effects, including genital shrinkage and sexual dysfunction that continued after treatment stopped. According to the latest multi district litigation statistics report published in November 2014, 742 Propecia lawsuits have been consolidated before US District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York. A Merck SEC filing revealed the company faced approximately 1,240 lawsuits involving about 1,500 plaintiffs in state and federal court. About 45 of the plaintiffs alleged a link between Propecia and/or Proscar and prostate cancer or male breast cancer.
Last summer, the plaintiffs accused Merck of failing to turn over more than 1,800 documents that they claimed were necessary for their lawsuit, while Merck insisted their documents were protected under work-product or attorney-client priviledge. Plaintiffs responded that “communications that were not written by attorneys nor sent to lawyers are not privileged.” Merck stated in its November 2014 SEC filing that it intends to defend against the lawsuits. The first bellwether trial is expected to start in October 2016.