Consumer-rights law firm Hagens Berman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Merck & Co for allegedly failing to warn of dangerous side effects related to its prescription hair loss drug Propecia (finasteride). 

The first-of-its-kind suit, which was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of California by the surviving spouse and two children of John Pfaff, alleges that Merck failed to include a warning of the increased risk of depression and suicidal ideation and behaviour between 1997 and 2010.

Merck did add a warning on depression in late 2010, but the drug’s label still does not acknowledge the risks of suicidal ideation and increased suicidal behaviour despite such observations in clinical trials, the suit claims. 

Mr Pfaff was prescribed Propecia in May 2008 after which he suffered deep depression followed by suicidal thoughts and, eventually, he took his own life. “Because of Defendant Merck’s strict negligence and breach of express and implied warranties in failing to warn of these dangerous side effects, they are liable for the injury to and wrongful death of John Pfaff,” according to the complaint.

Hagens Berman has now put out a call seeking information from others who have taken Propecia and experienced these side effects.