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The Little Blue Pill That Could Kill; NJ Attorneys for Viagra Injury Cases

In June, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study showing that men who took Viagra were 84% more likely to develop melanoma than men who did not use Viagra.  Melanoma is the most dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer.

While this is shocking news, it does not necessarily mean that Viagra must be abandoned immediately.  In the study, researchers studied the association between the risk of skin cancer and use of Sildenafil (more commonly known as Viagra) to determine if there was a connection.

More than 25,000 men were followed for ten years, finding that Viagra users had almost twice the risk of being diagnosed with melanoma than those who did not use it.  Researchers found that while erectile dysfunction was not associated with an increased risk of cancer in general, use of sildenafil was associated with a higher risk of melanoma.1  Researchers noted that Sildenafil lowers levels of a cancer fighting protein, which might be making the body more likely to be invaded by melanoma cancer cells.  The results of the study called for continued investigation into this association to determine just how strong it was.  The study does not say that Viagra directly causes skin cancer – it just shows a strong connection between Viagra use and a diagnosis of melanoma.  Because this was just one study, the results need to be replicated and clarified before any decisions regarding continued Viagra use and treatment of erectile dysfunction should be made.

Viagra has been on the market since 1998, at which point it was approved by the FDA for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.  Since its introduction, the drug has been of Pfizer’s most profitable drugs, bringing in $2 billion in sales in 2012 alone.2  As the manufacturer, Pfizer is required by law to appropriately and thoroughly test drugs before releasing them into the market.  The criteria used for drug testing is from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), requirements which are considered to be industry standards.  Further, Pfizer has a duty to warn patients about side effects of a drug when those dangers are known, and is required to take all reasonable steps to remain knowledgeable about its products and to warn of adverse reactions as they become known.3  Pfizer includes precautions and warnings with each sale of Viagra, but these precautions say nothing about the possible development of melanoma in users.  Specifically, the precautions state that Sildenafil was not carcinogenic (did not cause cancer) when administered to rats and mice, which might be used later to support the claim that Pfizer did not adequately warn or even know about the unpleasant side effect of skin cancer. 4

The results of the study have prompted lawsuits against Pfizer, claiming that Viagra
caused skin cancer and that Pfizer knew or should have known about this serious risk.  Claims of inadequate warnings are also being brought against Pfizer, as a warning of the possible risk of melanoma might have caused the affected men to make different choices regarding the treatment of their erectile dysfunction.5  Product liability cases like this one can be very complicated, and people seeking legal action against Pfizer will need to demonstrate that taking Viagra actually caused the diagnosis of melanoma.  It is likely that experts will need to testify about the study, the chemical composition of the medicine, and the complexities involved in the development of skin cancer.  Because melanoma rapidly spreads, it is likely that legal action taken against Pfizer will need to be done quickly so that victims can receive relief as quickly as possible.  There is a further sense of urgency for this because men over the age of 50, who are more likely to use Viagra, are also at a greater risk of developing and dying from skin cancer.

This is not the first time that Pfizer has been under fire for the little blue pill.  In 2006, a study suggested that Viagra users had an increased risk of blindness and other vision problems, prompting many lawsuits against Pfizer.  The study at issue there was not as large or as reputable as the study done here showing the connection between Viagra users and melanoma.

If you or a loved one has taken Viagra and then been diagnosed with melanoma, please do not hesitate to contact the New Jersey Lawyers for injuries from dangerous products at the Clark Law Firm, PC.

1 http://www.drugwatch.com/viagra/melanoma/

2 http://www.aboutlawsuits.com/viagra-melanoma-lawsuits-likely-65445/

3 http://injury.findlaw.com/product-liability/pharmaceutical-drug-liability.html

4 http://www.rxlist.com/viagra-drug/warnings-precautions.htm

5 http://www.njlawjournal.com/id=1202676352000/Lawyers-Readying-Suits-Claiming-Viagra-Caused-Skin-Cancer

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