Contact 13 Investigates
Trial for 'overpriced poison' Lupron begins in Las Vegas federal court
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - It's a highly toxic drug that's been called overpriced poison by many who've taken it.
Now, a major drug manufacturer is on trial here in Las Vegas in a federal case that will be watched across the country.
Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears is now continuing the investigation she began two years ago.
Daytona Beach, Florida. Evansville, Indiana. Sacramento, California. Las Vegas, Nevada...All these cities and hundreds more are home to women who call themselves Lupron victims.
"I think it should be removed. I don't think anybody should take it. It's poison," said 27-year-old Nickie Bogart.
"It's too risky. I don't see any beneficial reason for a woman to have it. Period," added Debby Reid.
Debby took Lupron in preparation for a hysterectomy. Nickie's shots were for endometriosis.
They're just two of many thousands of women who are trying to get Lupron off the market.
"I wrote an email to the FDA along with petitioning Congress," Nickie said.
The women say Illinois-based drug manufacturer Abbott Labs misrepresents the fact that side effects are reversible.
They believe much is missing from the warning label, and that the drug is dangerous and ineffective.
"I got really sick about a month after I took it. I was scared. My whole body just hurt. I couldn't open a can of soda. I was just in extreme pain," Nickie recalled.
The side effect of instant menopause is the one most women are told to expect from Lupron, but what's not on the label is what the federal lawsuit is focused on.
Court records show Plaintiff Karin Klein was prescribed Lupron in 2005 when she was 17 years old.
After taking it, she began to suffer "a series of debilitating illnesses and conditions, like significant bone density loss, neck pain, back pain and thyroid disease that were not warned in the packaging insert or labeling."
Contact 13 has heard from women across the country who will have their eyes on this federal trial as if it was their day in court.
They're hoping for accountability for the drug-maker and increased awareness for other women who may become victims of Lupron down the road.
"I was not fairly warned about the side effects that could happen," Nickie said.
Since taking Lupron, the 27-year-old has been diagnosed with thyroid disease and has to take another medication--ironically also made by Abbott--for the rest of her life.
"And now I've developed the thyroid problems, the back pain, the joint pain, short-term memory loss. I was just rushed to the hospital July 3 for chest pain, so it's just ongoing."
Court documents obtained by Contact 13 accuse Abbott of removing warnings about thyroid disease and reducing the bone density loss warning on their label for women "in an effort to underplay the risk in the eyes of prescribing doctors and their patients... Elevating the interest of profits over drug safety."
"That's all it is. They're out for the money," says Debby.
But things like that won't make it into the federal trial.
Contact 13 has learned there's a lot of information in this trial that the judge is keeping out of the courtroom.
Information some say is vital that the jurors won't get the chance to hear.
But you'll get a chance to hear it from Action News.
Court records show the judge won't allow former U.S. Lupron labels, foreign labels or warnings in Physician's Desk Reference books to be used as evidence.
He's also barring scientific journals and FDA Medwatch reports about the effects of Lupron reported by doctors and patients.
And jurors won't get to hear about the drug-makers' past "fraudulent marketing schemes and felony convictions."
Despite all that, the women we've talked to still hope Karin Klein's case gives voice to their suffering.
"I hope she wins," Debby says. "Because I hope the FDA turns and takes a very, very serious look at this, because this is just wrong!"
The FDA did not respond to our request for comment but we learned they recently worked with Abbott on a label change regarding the severity of bone density loss.
Karin Klein's attorneys declined to comment for this story.
And Abbott sent a written statement. It says in part: "the known risks of Lupron are clearly outlined in the prescribing information."
They say they "regularly monitor and evaluate adverse event reports" to update the prescribing information as appropriate.
Jury selection began today in the federal trial, which is expected to last about eight days.
Darcy will be closely following the case and updating the story.