October 5, 2017 / 9:51 PM / 13 days ago

Second U.S. jury finds AbbVie misrepresented risks of AndroGel

FILE PHOTO: A screen displays the share price for pharmaceutical maker AbbVie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 18, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - A U.S. jury on Thursday ordered AbbVie Inc to pay more than $140 million to a man who claimed the company misrepresented the risks of its testosterone replacement drug AndroGel, causing him to suffer a heart attack, the plaintiff’s lawyer said in a statement.

The verdict, handed down in federal court in Chicago, came in a lawsuit Tennessee resident Jeffrey Konrad and his wife filed in 2015. It is the second verdict against AbbVie to come out of more than 6,000 similar lawsuits against AbbVie and other companies consolidated in the Chicago court.

“We are disappointed with today’s verdict and we intend to appeal,” Chicago-based AbbVie said in a statement.

Thursday’s verdict was comprised of $140 million in punitive damages, intended to deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar behavior, and $140,000 in compensatory damages, according to David Buchanan, an attorney for Konrad.

Konrad’s case is part of a series of test trials aimed at helping plaintiffs and manufacturers of AndroGel gauge the range of damages and define a legal strategy and settlement options.

Plaintiffs across the country claim AndroGel can cause heart attacks, strokes and other injuries.

AbbVie has said that its marketing of AndroGel adhered strictly to uses approved by the Food and Drug Administration and that it was in full compliance with applicable standards.

A federal jury in another case in July found AbbVie fraudulently misrepresented the drug’s risk and ordered the company to pay $150 million in punitive damages.

That jury’s decision to award punitive damages without granting compensatory damages was unusual and both sides continue to fight over the verdict’s validity in court.

Konrad, 56, had been using AndroGel for two months in 2010 when he suffered a heart attack. He has since recovered from his injuries.

In court papers, the company contended that Konrad’s heart attack was caused by other factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure. It also said it made no misrepresentations about AndroGel’s safety.

AbbVie’s AndroGel is one of the dominant testosterone treatments on the market, with sales of $675 million in 2016.

In 2014, the FDA convened an advisory committee to consider the adverse cardiovascular outcomes associated with testosterone replacement therapy.

On the committee’s recommendation, the FDA required AbbVie to add a warning about cardiovascular risk to AndroGel’s label in May 2015.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Additional reporting by Tina Bellon and Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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