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In recent years, testosterone therapies to help men with erectile dysfunction or low testosterone levels have become more common than ever. With the advances in such medication, however, come advances in risks that accompany such treatment. According to WebMD.com, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), are not as common as one may think. Part of this could because of the many risks that accompany TRT and the fact that many physicians are not yet familiar with the overall picture of such therapy.

Testosterone gels carry their own set of risks separate from those associated with pill therapy. Pill therapy can have unwanted side effects such as acne, sleep apnea, and breast enlargement, according to WebMD. Yet when a man uses a testosterone cream or gel, it can have unintended side effects for his family. “If a woman or child comes into contact with testosterone gels, it can cause side effects in them, including hair growth and premature puberty,” according to WebMD. Most doctors say that this transference is rare, but men using testosterone gel should take care to wash their hands thoroughly after use to mitigate the possibility of such unwanted side effects.

Yet transference to women and children is not the only highly publicized negative effect of testosterone gels. According to Bloomberg News, earlier this year, Abbott Laboratories (ABT), the manufacturer of AndroGel, a very common brand of TRT gel, was sued by five men claiming that the ABT failed to properly warn patients of severe side effects of the gel on their hearts. One man allegedly had a stroke as a result of AndroGel use.

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Cymbalta is a multi-use prescription drug most commonly used as an anti-depressant. Despite several clinical trials during the approval process of Cymbalta that alleged Cymbalta caused depression in otherwise healthy patients, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not recall the drug for use as an anti-depressant, according to the New York Times. Most tellingly, the suicide of 19-year-old drug tester Traci Johnson, who had no other symptoms of depression, brought the issues with Cymbalta to wider attention. Four years after this negative publicity, in 2008, Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Cymbalta, sought to have the drug approved for treatment for chronic pain, especially in patients suffering from Fibromyalgia. The drug was not approved for such use in 2008. It would eventually be approved for such treatment in 2010, according to another article in the New York Times.

Cymbalta has been back in the news recently, as several lawsuits have been brought against Eli Lilly by patients using Cymbalta as an antidepressant. These patients claim to have experienced “brain zaps and other side effects” when attempting to stop taking the drug, according to Law360.com. Yet Eli Lilly representatives have responded to the claims by saying that medical professionals were made well aware of the risks when prescribing Cymbalta to their patients, and thus the fault does not lie with the drug manufacturer for failing to make patients aware of the risks of use.

According to Law360.com, Lilly earned $18 billion from 2004 to 2011 for the sales of Cymbalta. Like other antidepressants, patients are discouraged from suddenly stopping to take Cymbalta, as this can lead to serious conditions, either physical (ie: nausea, headache) or emotional (ie: irritability, anxiety, nightmares). The complaint alleges that if patients had known how difficult it would be to stop taking Cymbalta, they would never have started to take it in the first place.

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Sometimes prominent drugs are recalled and no one knows about it. This was the case with a 2010 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall of the birth control Yaz, a contraceptive approved by the FDA for use among women as young as 14 years old. Yaz and Beyaz—a similar FDA-approved medication made by the same manufacturer, Berlex, Inc.—hit the market when it was approved in 2006, according to Drugs.com. Beyaz is primarily used to treat acne, while Yaz is marketed as the contraceptive. The only warnings on the Yaz website for either drug alert women who smoke and women over the age of 35 to increased risks of blood clot or stroke when taking the drug.

The trouble for the popular contraceptive came in 2010, when lawsuits started to pop up across the country alleging that women who were on the medication experienced a much higher rate of blood clots than the manufacturer had described. Bayer, the parent company for Yaz, was sued in 1,100 lawsuits that year, according to CBSNews.com. When Bayer began to face these lawsuits, Yaz was its best-selling product, according to CBS. As a result, one may think that a recall of the product would have been widely publicized. Not so.

The FDA issued a recall of the drug in November 2009, but it never made consumer headlines. This regardless of the fact that it “involved 32,856 boxes of Yaz, at three packs per box, and 122,208 boxes of Ocella, an identical product,” reports CBS. Despite its magnitude, the recall was hidden in the “Enforcement Report” section of the FDA website, meaning that anyone who wanted to know about the recall would already have had to know to look there.

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Xarelto is a blood thinner prescribed to patients at high risk of blood clots or strokes and is widely prescribed by the medical community. It can also be used to treat pulmonary embolism and can be used to reduce the risk of clotting in a person who has just undergone joint replacement surgery. According to the Xarelto website, more than 9 million people worldwide have been prescribed Xarelto for various reasons. The only people not recommended to take the drug, according to the website, are people who have artificial heart valves or abnormal types of bleeding. Yet the drug has come under fire lately after many patients and the loved ones of patients complained that the drug resulted in hemorrhaging in otherwise healthy users of the drug.

According to WebMD.com, hemorrhaging is a common side effect that can accompany the less common side effects of taking Xarelto, which can include, but are not limited to:

  • The collection of clotted blood in an organ;
  • Dizziness or sensations of feeling faint;
  • Brain hemorrhaging;
  • Backache or arthritis;
  • Indigestion; and
  • Low energy or muscle spasms.

Since patients began coming forward with cases indicating that Xarelto was responsible for these side effects, many lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer of the drug for failing to properly alert the medical community to the risks. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Xarelto was originally approved for use in 2011, and expanded uses—to treat deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism—were approved in 2012. All blood thinners carry the risk of uncontrollable bleeding, yet the risk is more serious with Xarelto than other approved drugs, especially because of its many approved uses. Lawsuits allege that Xarelto's manufacturer, Bayer, and marketing team (overseen by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals), did not fully vet the possibility of severe bleeding before releasing the drug to market, after failing to allow time for proper clinical trials before the drug was release to the public.

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Abilify is the name brand of the medication aripirazole. Aripirazole is the medicine used to treat mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, severe mental depression and schizophrenia. No evidence has been released that proves that the drug does not do what it is intended to do, but there are some unexpected side effects of taking this medication about which many patients have filed lawsuits. These unexpected side effects primarily include the development or exacerbation of compulsive behavior, according to the British Journal of Psychology, sometimes in patients in whom compulsive behavior had not bee observed prior to taking Abilify.

When the drug first hit the market, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made no warnings that the medicine could induce compulsive behavior. According to the FDA, possible side effects of Abilify included high blood sugar and neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). NMS can result in “high fever, stiff muscles, confusion, sweating, changes in pulse, heart rate, and blood pressure.” Because Abilify functions as an anti-depressant, the FDA also made note that the medicine could lead to increased thoughts of suicide during initial stages of being on the medication.

Yet in 2014, studies began to surface that revealed Abilify, or aripirazole, was linked to an increased risk of compulsive behavior, seen most prominently through proof of pathological gambling in patients who were regularly taking Abilify. Medical professionals thought this was because Abilify acts at the D3 receptor in the limbic system, it may over-stimulate the reward system of the brain. Stimulation of the reward system in your brain is what leads people to compulsive behavior such as pathological gambling.

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