After more than two weeks of trial, the jury in Couch v. AbbVie, the first state court trial against the manufacturer’s of AndroGel, returned a verdict for the Defendants on all claims. The Couch case was one of about 150 cases filed in Illinois state court, as opposed to being consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL), consisting of thousands of cases, in federal court. This verdict came shortly after a highly unusual verdict in the federal bellwether trial, Mitchell v. AbbVie, where the jury awarded no compensatory damages, but awarded a large punitive award to the Plaintiff.
In the state court trial, Mr. Couch sued AbbVie, claiming that his AndroGel use caused a severe heart attack at the end of 2013. Like the arguments made in the July bellwether trial in federal court, the Plaintiffs in state court argued that existing studies showed that testosterone replacement therapy caused an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events. Mr. Couch argued that AbbVie knew about these studies and risks, but failed to conduct further studies regarding AndroGel’s safety before engaging in a mass marketing scheme aimed at significantly growing the patient population for their drug.
Instead of focusing on patient safety, AbbVie focused on advertising AndroGel to treat age-related testosterone decline rather than the very specific and rare conditions for which the drug was FDA-approved to treat. Mr. Couch was one of the many men who fell prey to AbbVie’s targeted off-label marketing, and ultimately sought testosterone replacement therapy from his doctor to treat symptoms like depression and lethargy, neither of which are FDA-approved indications for AndroGel.
AbbVie argued that Mr. Couch did not use AndroGel consistently during the time leading up to his heart attack, noting that he only filled his prescription for AndroGel twice between February 2013 and his heart attack on Dec. 13, 2013. AbbVie further argued that Mr. Couch only actually used AndroGel for a combined total of about three months throughout the one-year period prior to his heart attack and that he stopped using it two months prior to suffering his heart attack. Defendants also focused heavily on Mr. Couch’s pre-existing cardiac risk factors, arguing that those risk factors, not AndroGel, caused his heart attack. While the Plaintiffs’ arguments were very compelling, ultimately, the jury found for the Defendants on all claims.
Lawyers and staff from Beasley Allen as well as several other law firms on the MDL Plaintiff Steering Committee and Executive Committee are already back in the courtroom, working on the new trial for Jeffrey Konrad, discussed above. Mr. Konrad’s case is distinguishable from the previous two cases in several ways, and we are excited about presenting his case to the jury.