You Need To Read This Reuters Long Form Story: On Propecia® — And Hiding The Evidence

We return to our original animating narrative arc, here — for a fine expose on the Finasteride saga — branded by mother Merck as Propecia®. [Just one — of dozens — of my backgrounders, here.]

We still adhere to the view that perhaps more often than people realize, greater harms are caused by greedy life science executives — greater than the ill they set out to “ameliorate“. “Male pattern baldness” was made a target only after other indications for the drug turned up as. . . dry holes. But the sunk investment costs were not going to be allowed to fall to the bottom line, as a complete loss, according to Merck marketing mavens.

Indeed, do go read it all — but it tells the story of what all those redacted court filings were all about [just use our “Search” box to see literally hundreds of them, search for Propecia, upper left], in the able Judge Cogan’s Brooklyn federal district courtroom. Here’s just a bit:

. . . .The redacted motion argues that Merck not only underreported the number of men who experienced sexual dysfunction while taking Propecia, but also concealed the duration of those problems. Citing the Merck analyst’s memo, the motion says that of the 23 study subjects who experienced sexual side effects during the last three years of the study, seven continued to experience symptoms when they completed it. The symptoms of nine others resolved after they stopped taking the drug, but the time it took was unknown, the motion says. And of the six men who dropped out of the study, it says, one still had symptoms at least 66 days after stopping treatment.

Merck didn’t know if some of these men’s symptoms resolved, Kaufman said in a deposition.

None of this data described in the plaintiffs’ motion was included on the revised 2002 label. Instead, Merck made a small but significant change to the label’s language: Symptoms stopped in “men” who went off the pills, the label now said, rather than “all men. . . .”

Do go read it all — it is a compelling story — of depraved. . . hubris. Indeed, how critical to human health is “ameliorating” the [naturally occurring] condition of. . . male pattern baldness? Seriously.

Yep — onward, on another steamy late summer’s sunny morning walk, to the trains. . . be excellent to one another.


7 Responses

  1. Thanks for posting this. Do you think there will be any motion to reopen the MDL since it was skewed ?

    • Welcome back, Kevin — good to see a familiar. . . keyboard(!). . .

      I wish that I could say there is some realistic hope.

      But as a lawyer with three decades experience watching drug and device product liability class action litigation in the US, I think this one is all done.

      I think the Reuters story might help individual suits, only. To the extent any remaining individual suit plaintiff(s) alleges the sealing was improper, and prevented them from “getting at” otherwise known and discoverable evidence — that they are/were entitled to — that might have some legs, in the pending remaining individual suits.

      But for class members already settled, I think the door to the courthouse is. . . now closed.

      I wish it weren’t so, but I think it is.

      Namaste. . . .

      • Thanks for your quick reply. Just saw another article today where Reuter’s filed a motion for a judge to open all sealed documents in the MDL and make the Court Ruling a public record saying it violated first Amendment rights. This news just came out this afternoon

      • Indeed. I am gratified that this is all coming to light, but for the MDL class plaintiffs… the rights are, I’m afraid… already settled.

        If your lawyer is pursuing an individual suit… these materials may be pretty useful.

        Namaste, and good luck!

  2. I don’t want to belabor the point too much here but I was thinking that the way this ruling was handled by the judge and court system sets a dangerous precedent doesn’t it ? What I mean is that in future trials drug companies can cite that the Propecia MDL was handled in such a way, then why can’t their proceedings be handled in the same manner ? Do you see what I am getting at ? This could become standard procedure.

    • I do. I guess… we shall see. But in theory at least, Merck or any other pharma concern should be able to seal legitimate (and unrelated) trade secret methods, chemistry know-how and the like (if unrelated to alleged theory of injury).

      So… we shall see.

  3. What do you think these new revelations might do to the 2019 MDL settlement ?
    Could it be reopened or refiled ?
    Are the plaintiffs that settled for a few paltry dollars left out in the cold ?
    We were informed we needed to sign off because this was it. The end of the line. Merck had won.

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