AndroGel trial do-over slashes AbbVie damages from $150M to $3M

androgel
A jury ordered AbbVie to pay $3.2 million in a bellwether AndroGel trial. (AbbVie)

AbbVie has scored a major reduction of damages in a retrial of an AndroGel liability case. After a judge nixed the initial verdict of $150 million and sent the case back for retrial, a jury this week awarded just over $3 million—nearly one-fiftieth the original amount.

Plaintiff Jesse Mitchell had sued AbbVie in 2014 after suffering a heart attack in 2012, arguing that the company's testosterone product “causes serious medical problems, including life-threatening cardiac events, strokes and thrombolytic events.” The company aggressively marketed its med, the lawsuit claimed, and Mitchell said he wouldn't have used AndroGel if he'd known the risks.

In the original trial, jurors determined the company wasn't negligent or responsible for Mitchell's heart attack, but they did find that the company fraudulently misrepresented its product. The panel awarded no compensatory damages but $150 million in punitive damages. A judge ruled that verdict "internally inconsistent" and ordered a new trial.

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In the second trial, a jury found that AbbVie wasn't strictly liable and didn't fraudulently misrepresent AndroGel, but that the company was negligent. They ordered the company to pay $200,000 in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages.

An AbbVie spokesperson said the company is disappointed and will appeal the decision. Mitchell's attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

RELATED: Judge overturns $150M AndroGel verdict against AbbVie 

All told, AbbVie faces about 4,300 AndroGel liability cases, according to its recent annual filing. The plaintiffs allege the drugmaker worked to grow "Low-T" diagnoses while ignoring AndroGel's risks. The drug reached blockbuster status in 2012 and 2013 before falling more recently after lawsuits emerged and the FDA placed new safety warnings on AndroGel.

Mitchell's $3.2 million award follows another trial the company lost in October worth $140 million; AbbVie has pledged to appeal in that case. More recently, the company prevailed in the January bellwether trial of plaintiff Robert Nolte's claims.  

RELATED: Endo, GlaxoSmithKline close to settling testosterone liability cases 

Also involved in multidistrict litigation for testosterone drugs are Eli Lilly, Endo and GlaxoSmithKline, although those companies are advancing with settlement talks, according to court filings and annual reports. 

Eli Lilly faces about 550 lawsuits over Axiron, while Endo faces 1,300 cases involving several products. GlaxoSmithKline didn't market its own testosterone drug, but helped Endo co-promote Testim for about a year. 

Endo won its first bellwether case in November and signed a memorandum of understanding about a potential settlement in February. Eli Lilly also has an "agreement on a settlement framework," according to its annual SEC filing.