In January 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug called teprotumumab (brand name Tepezza). Less than a year later, Daniel Weibel sued the drug’s manufacturer because it had caused him to suffer severe hearing loss. Before long, many others had joined the lawsuit.
Today, in 2023, the Tepezza lawsuit has grown much larger in both size and scope. More individuals are coming forward to reveal they have suffered hearing loss from Tepezza. The manufacturer (Horizon Therapeutics PLC) continues to fight the lawsuit, denying any fault.
What Is Tepezza?
Tepezza is a drug designed to treat thyroid eye disease (TED). It is the first medicine on the market that treats this disease instead of just the symptoms. And testing shows that it is effective at dealing with TED.
What Is TED?
TED is a rare autoimmune disease that impacts only 1 in 10,000 people. It causes swelling, redness, and eyelid retraction in victims. While minor cases only result in discomfort, severe cases can lead to blindness.
Tepezza and TED
As effective as Tepezza is at treating TED, it comes with a significant downside. Roughly 85% of Tepezza users suffer some sort of side effect. Most of these effects are trivial, but one is quite scary. About 10% of Tepezza users suffer hearing loss or tinnitus.
Thankfully, some studies have suggested that hearing might return if the patient stops using Tepezza. But several patients have suffered permanent hearing loss or tinnitus. And those patients are joining the lawsuits against Tepezza.
Most people know what hearing loss is, but few know what tinnitus is. Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a ringing or buzzing in your ears. This sound isn’t external. Instead, it comes from inside your head, which means you can’t avoid it.
Some people who suffer from tinnitus hear the sounds all the time. However, others only hear it occasionally. But it doesn’t matter whether you hear it constantly or only sometimes. Once it starts, it is unlikely to ever go away.
And unfortunately, this buzzing or ringing can increase in volume over the years. As a result, it can eventually become loud enough that you can’t hear anything else while it is happening.
What to Do if You Are Taking Tepezza
If you are taking this drug, you should speak to a product liability lawyer at The Joel Bieber Firm right away. Our lawyers understand the dangers of Tepezza. We can help you find a doctor who will determine whether you are suffering from hearing loss. You may not even realize that you have hearing loss without professional testing.
If we discover that your hearing has been impaired, we will help you file a Tepezza lawsuit. You have the right to compensation for your loss of hearing. Don’t wait; instead, talk to us today.
How Did This Happen?
TED is a relatively minor disease. While the symptoms are very annoying, it rarely causes serious long-term consequences. However, it is a very frustrating condition to deal with because the symptoms are hard to treat. And since the disease couldn’t be treated before Tepezza was invented, people suffered from it for their entire lives.
Furthermore, TED is rare enough that few companies have even worked on a treatment for it. This was a boon for the manufacturer of Tepezza. When the company applied for FDA approval, that approval was fast-tracked and given the Orphan Drug designation.
Consequently, Tepezza didn’t get the same amount of testing that other drugs receive when they are approved. The FDA mostly relied on the manufacturer’s word.
Manufacturer May Have Hid Knowledge of Hearing Loss
When the product was first released, it listed hearing impairment as a potential side effect. However, there was no warning that the drug could lead to serious or permanent hearing loss. The doctors who prescribed the drug were unaware. Patients also didn’t know the drug could lead to permanent hearing loss.
Because doctors and patients weren’t advised of these consequences, they chose to use the drug, thinking it was safe. In turn, they suffered extreme side effects. Had they known they could have permanently lost their ability to hear, most patients wouldn’t have taken the drug just to treat discomfort.
The Tepezza lawsuits allege that the manufacturer was aware of these side effects and hid them from doctors and patients — and probably from the FDA as well. If these claims are true, the manufacturer is responsible for the harm the drug has caused.
When Did the Manufacturer Know?
That is the main question in the Tepezza lawsuit. If the manufacturer knew about this serious side effect before the product hit the market, they would be responsible for everyone who suffered hearing loss.
They may also be liable, though, if they merely should have known about the potential for severe hearing loss. Drug designers are required to do lots of testing. They aren’t supposed to start selling a drug until they are certain it won’t cause more harm than good. Horizon might have been aware that the drug needed more testing and didn’t do it because they didn’t want to find more side effects.
For now, there are a few facts that suggest Horizon might have known more than it claimed. First, it did list hearing impairment as a side effect. Since hearing impairment is a less serious side effect than hearing loss, the company might have claimed that to avoid admitting to something worse.
Additionally, the American Journal of Ophthalmology published a study about Tepezza and hearing dysfunction. The study was partially funded by Horizon. Researchers determined that approximately 80% of patients developed some form of hearing loss. And over half of those patients continued to have hearing loss after they stopped using the drug.
Studies like this usually take a long time to complete. As a result, the manufacturer probably suspected hearing loss long before they admitted it was a problem.
Progress of Current Tepezza Lawsuits
The lawsuit has progressed slowly, and there haven’t been many major events. But one important development happened in July 2023. Horizon changed the Tepezza label by adding a warning about permanent hearing loss. This means that the company acknowledged the side effect, which may affect the outcome of future trials.
In the middle of this lawsuit, the biotechnology company Amgen started the process of buying Horizon. Whether this makes the lawsuit easier or harder is yet unknown. It’s possible that Amgen will offer settlements after the sale is complete, but they have made no such promise thus far.
Furthermore, the case had previously been moved to an Illinois court because Horizon is located there. But Amgen is located in California. If they finalize the sale, a judge may decide to move the case again, delaying it further.
What to Know if You File a Lawsuit
The Joel Bieber Firm has decades of experience dealing with drug side effect lawsuits. When you come to us with hearing loss, we will ask you several questions to determine whether you have a strong case.
When Did You Learn About Tepezza Hearing Loss?
The first patient to file a lawsuit didn’t know that Tepezza caused hearing loss before taking the drug. This is an important part of his case. Similarly, we need to know when you learned that the drug causes hearing loss. If you were aware before you started taking Tepezza, you don’t have a strong case.
Did Your Doctor Know About the Side Effect?
We also need to determine whether your doctor knew that Tepezza could cause hearing loss. If your doctor knew and prescribed the drug anyway, the manufacturer isn’t responsible for your hearing loss. Instead, your doctor carries that liability. In response, we would sue them instead of the company.
How Bad Are Your Symptoms?
The company admitted that the product causes hearing impairment. That gives it a little leeway to avoid lawsuits. If you suffer a minor reduction in volume, for example, that would be considered hearing impairment. As a result, you wouldn’t have a good lawsuit because you were warned about that side effect.
We also ask these questions to determine how much money you deserve. We could get you more money for complete than partial hearing loss. And if you have persistent tinnitus, we might be able to get you even more money for the extra suffering you are enduring.
Did Your Hearing Return After You Stopped Using the Drug?
Some patients report that hearing partially or fully returns after they stop using the drug. This doesn’t mean they don’t deserve money for the time that they lost their hearing. It just means that they will get less money.
Does Hearing Loss Make It Impossible to Do Your Job?
Hearing loss destroys lives. Even mild hearing loss makes lots of tasks more difficult. You may lose your license or require assistance with daily activities. But the most devastating loss you can experience is that of your job.
If you can’t perform your job duties because of hearing loss, we can get you money for the years of wages you won’t receive. Even if you can work at another job, we can get you money for the difference in income between the two careers. You can also get money for the loss of enjoyment if your new job is less pleasant than your old one.
How Much Money Will You Get?
This is a tricky question to answer. Everyone has a different story. And the amount of money you will get is based on your story.
We fight to get you money to pay for the following:
- All medical costs resulting from your hearing loss
- Loss of income
- Assistance services or therapy you need
- The reduction in your quality of life
- Punitive damages if we can prove the manufacturer intentionally misled users
These cases often take years to complete. In part, this is because we need time to collect evidence of your future losses. The court won’t take our word that you can’t work anymore. We need a doctor to testify to that fact.
Similarly, we can’t just claim that you will lose out on $2 million in income, for example. We need to prove that. Thus, we have to give the court records of your current wages. And then we have to show what someone of your age and experience is likely to earn before retiring. This requires a lot of research and testimony from economics experts.
Sometimes, it can take years to gather all that evidence. And attorneys for the company will try to dispute what we present to the court. Usually, the longer a case takes, the more likely the plaintiff will drop their claim or accept a low settlement.
Our goal is to get you the most money the law allows. In some cases, that may mean a few thousand dollars. However, you might get millions of dollars if you have permanent hearing loss and are relatively young.
The Next Step
For Daniel Weibel, the next step is waiting for a verdict. His personal injury lawyers continue to fight in court while he works with doctors to recover as best he can. Hopefully, the verdict will award him a lot of money. But there is no guarantee.
Because the outcome of his case is still pending, the next step for you is to talk to The Joel Bieber Firm as soon as possible. If he wins, hundreds of others will probably file lawsuits. And that could bankrupt the company, which will limit how much money you get.
However, we can probably negotiate a settlement quickly if we have a pending lawsuit when Weibel wins his case. That is the best-case scenario.
How Much Will a Tepezza Lawsuit Cost?
We know that people suffering from drug side effects are usually drowning in medical debt. Asking you to pay for a lawyer in that situation is just cruel. And our law firm isn’t cruel.
We will take your case on contingency. Instead of charging an hourly fee, we take a percentage of the money we get for you after the case is done. And if we can’t get you money, you don’t have to pay us a dime.
There’s no need to worry. We put all these details in writing during your free consultation. And if you have any other questions about our fees, just ask.
Don’t Wait to Contact Our Law Firm
This Tepezza situation progressed very quickly. If you had TED in 2019, you just had to take drugs to lessen the symptoms. In the worst situations, your doctor might have recommended surgery to reduce your discomfort.
But starting in 2020, Tepezza was approved for use in the U.S. to treat the entire disease. At the time, it seemed like a miracle drug. And many doctors prescribed it after learning about it. Those doctors acted in good faith. But sadly, they made a mistake.
Now we know that Tepezza does more harm than good. The hearing loss caused by this drug is debilitating. And tinnitus can destroy lives.
If you are suffering either tinnitus or hearing loss after using Tepezza, contact The Joel Bieber Firm as soon as possible. Our lawyers will help you get the medical care and money you need to get back on your feet and start enjoying life again.