AbbVie hit with $140M verdict in second bellwether AndroGel case

AbbVie has suffered its second big AndroGel loss in court. On Thursday, a federal jury ordered the drugmaker to pay more than $140 million to a plaintiff who had a heart attack on the testosterone med and argued that the company's aggressive marketing risked patient safety. 

Plaintiff Jeffrey Konrad started taking AndroGel in 2010 and had a heart attack only months after, according to his lawsuit. Now, following a lengthy trial in Chicago, a jury sided with his arguments and awarded compensatory damages of $140,000 and punitive damages worth $140 million.

In his suit, Konrad said AbbVie gave no warning to patients and doctors that AndroGel could cause heart attacks and other serious side effects. He said the company's drug promotions and award-winning disease awareness efforts called "Is It Low-T?" prompted men around the country to seek out the treatment, risking their health.  

An AbbVie spokesperson said the company is "disappointed with today’s verdict and we intend to appeal." 

AndroGel is approved to treat a specific condition called hypogonadism, but Konrad and his legal team argued AbbVie promoted the med for a much broader population of men.  

As a result of that marketing, AndroGel sales soared, they said. The testosterone drug passed the blockbuster mark in 2012 and 2013 before falling more recently after lawsuits emerged and the FDA placed new safety warnings on the med. AndroGel brought in $675 million last year.

A verdict in the Konrad case follows another major loss for AbbVie over the summer. In July, a jury ordered the company to pay $150 million after hearing weeks of testimony in the case of Jesse Mitchell. Jurors in that case concluded that AbbVie wasn't responsible for the plaintiff's heart attack, nor was it negligent. But they did find that AbbVie fraudulently misrepresented its med. AbbVie pledged to appeal and said in its second quarter SEC filing that it "expects the punitive damage award will not stand."

As bellwether cases, both results could inform settlement negotiations going forward as the sides examine their legal strengths and weaknesses. Thursday's jury decision comes as thousands of other cases pile up in Chicago federal court.