An increasing number of lawsuits are being filed against drug maker Merck over the hair loss drugs Propecia and Proscar claiming the drugs are dangerous and that Merck knew or should have known about the dangerous side effects and failed to warn consumers about them. The lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts across the country.
The first of the lawsuits was filed in New Jersey federal court on behalf of a Nevada man and a Texas man and seeks mass tort status. An attorney for the men said that of the 80 lawsuits he has filed so far, “Most of the plaintiffs are males in their 20s, 30s and 40s who have suffered irreparable harm to their reproductive systems. A lot of them have depression, anxiety and [there have been] three suicides because of the side effects,” Lawyers USA Online reports.
A second mass tort petition was filed in New Jersey state court on behalf of 46 plaintiffs, and is expected to grow to include hundreds more. A motion has been filed by a plaintiff in New York requesting centralization and consolidation of the lawsuits in a multidistrict litigation, MDL.
In November, a lawsuit filed in Ohio federal court by 25-year-old man said that he suffered from sexual dysfunction, like many of the other plaintiffs, but that he also had cognitive impairment that continued even after he stopped taking the medication.
Dr. Alan Jacobs, a New York neuroendocrinologist, spoke in a conference about Propecia and said that the active ingredient in the drugs, finasteride, blocks an enzyme in the hair follicles, but can sometimes also block the enzyme in sex organs and the brain. He said an increasing number of young men are complaining about erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, and loss of sleep related erections, but that some of these patients are also developing cognitive impairment and anxiety, brain fog, and an inability to concentrate.
A key element in the lawsuits is that the warning labels on the drugs sold in foreign countries is much stronger than the warning label attached to Propecia and Proscar sold in the US and Canada. In foreign countries, Merck changed the label in 2008 to say that the drugs could lead to permanent erectile dysfunction.