The VIAGRA® Lawsuit: An Increased Incidence of Melanoma

The popular erectile dysfunction (ED) drug VIAGRA® has been associated with an increased risk of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Having already fought against prior litigation concerning other dangerous side effects, Pfizer Corporation is now facing a new VIAGRA® lawsuit. Our law practice in San Diego, CA, handles pharmaceutical liability cases, ensuring victims are generously compensated for their injuries and losses. For a free consultation and case review, please contact our law firm today.

About VIAGRA® and Melanoma

VIAGRA® (the brand name of sildenafil citrate) is prescribed to treat the symptoms of ED in men. A single, small, blue pill works by relaxing muscles in the walls of blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the penis. Since it was introduced in the United States in 1998, more than 35 million men have been prescribed the drug, bringing in billions of dollars for Pfizer.

VIAGRA® being poured out of a bottle

Sildenafil is a PDE-5 (Phosphodiesterase type 5) inhibitor, which works by stimulating an enzyme that produces cGMP (cyclic guanosine monophosphate). cGMP acts as a messenger and relaxes smooth muscle cells, providing the desired effect. However, this cell stimulation may, unfortunately, have an effect on the development of skin cancer cells as well.

In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014, researchers found that VIAGRA® users showed a significantly increased risk of developing malignant melanoma. Analyzing the cause and effect, the study authors noted it was “biologically plausible that PDE5A inhibitors may promote invasion of primary tumors."

Almost 70,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and about 8,650 people die from the disease annually.

A later study confirmed evidence of this link, reporting a 20 percent increase in melanoma diagnoses among users of PDE-5 inhibitors. MedPage Today reported that the causal relationship remains uncertain, but there is enough evidence to remain concerned. Pfizer, however, has not added skin cancer warnings to drug labels.

VIAGRA® Lawsuits

In the past, Pfizer has paid out millions of dollars to VIAGRA® claimants suffering a variety of adverse effects. Prior cases have included sudden drops in blood pressure causing heart problems and severe vision loss. Many ED patients experienced Non-Arteritic Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (NAION), a type of eye stroke. In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required Pfizer to include warnings of sudden vision loss on VIAGRA® packaging.

Currently, new lawsuits are being filed by VIAGRA® patients who have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma. These claimants include a North Carolina man who developed melanoma on his scalp after using VIAGRA® for three years, and a California man with melanoma on his back. Additionally, a wrongful death suit was filed by the wife of a Minnesota man who died from metastatic melanoma after using VIAGRA® for several years.

Almost 70,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and about 8,650 people die from the disease annually. When the condition is identified in the early stages, it can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Plaintiffs consider the condition a very high price to pay for use of a nonessential drug, which they were led to believe was safe.

Seek Legal Counsel

If you developed melanoma after using VIAGRA®, our attorneys would like to speak with you. We provide case assessment and representation for injured victims and families, and we work on a contingency basis, so you pay no up-front fees. Please contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation.