Friday, 19 July, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalReuters wins bid to have Merck documents Propecia unsealed

Reuters wins bid to have Merck documents Propecia unsealed

A US judge has granted a Reuters request to unseal Merck & Co documents produced in lawsuits related to its anti-baldness treatment Propecia, finding that the public’s right to access outweighed the drug maker’s arguments for keeping the information secret.

Reuters reports that plaintiffs suing Merck alleged that the company did not fully disclose on Propecia’s label the incidence and duration of sexual dysfunction in men who took the drug in clinical trials.

As part of an investigation of the impact of court secrecy on public health and safety, Reuters published an article in 2019 that examined the basis for those allegations, but many internal Merck documents that might have shed further light on the case remained under seal.

Reuters reports that 16 months after a motion asking that those documents be unsealed was filed, US Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo in Brooklyn rejected Merck’s position that the public had no right to access its documents filed in court, which the company said contained proprietary information.

In 2012, more than 1,100 Propecia-related lawsuits filed across the US against Merck were consolidated before Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn Federal Court in so-called multi-district litigation. Merck in 2018 agreed to settle most of them for $4.3m, to be divided among the plaintiffs.

Reuters reports that prior to the settlement, plaintiffs’ lawyers cited internal company communications to allege that in revisions to the drug’s original label, Merck understated the number of men who experienced sexual symptoms in clinical trials and how long those symptoms lasted. Merck settled before responding to the allegations in court, and Cogan allowed many of the Merck documents to remain under seal without conducting any analysis of whether they merited secrecy.

The judge ordered that all the documents sought by Reuters be unsealed.


[link url=""]Full Reuters report (Open access)[/link]

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