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Actos Lawsuit Trial Underway in Maryland

Takeda Pharmaceuticals failed to warn patients about increased Actos bladder cancer risks, an attorney argued in state court in Baltimore earlier this month.

This Actos lawsuit trial is one of more than 3,000 cases against the pharmaceutical company over the diabetes drug, according to Bloomberg.

Actos lawsuit trial underway before state jury

The family of Diep An, a Vietnamese immigrant who died of bladder cancer last year after taking Actos (pioglitazone), is suing Takeda Pharmaceuticals.  The family’s attorneys say that Mr. An, a former Army translator, took Actos to treat his diabetes starting in 2007.   He was diagnosed with “high-grade bladder cancer” in September 2011, and died in January 2012.

Mr. An’s family argues that Takeda knew by 2005 that studies had demonstrated a link between Actos and bladder cancer. Takeda did not issue a warning until six years later, however.  Takeda argues that the plaintiff has not proven that Actos was the cause of Mr. An’s bladder cancer.

Research shows connection between Actos and bladder cancer

Actos is a treatment for type 2 diabetes.  Patients with type 2 diabetes cannot properly regulate blood sugar levels.  Actos helps make the body more sensitive to available insulin.  This helps sugar travel to the body’s cells, and helps normalize glucose levels.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval for Actos in 1999.

Medical studies have concluded that Actos has the potential for very serious side effects.  In 2011, the FDA announced results from an Actos safety study.  The study concluded that patients who took Actos for more than one year increased their risk of bladder cancer by 40%.  In May, 2012, the British Medical Journal published a study that showed an increased bladder cancer risk of 83%.

The FDA has issued Actos warnings as studies have shown a more clear connection between the diabetes drug and bladder cancer.  In 2011, the FDA issued safety announcement, stating, “The use of the diabetes medicine Actos (pioglitazone) for more than one year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.”  The FDA ordered that information about the risk be added to the warning and precautions section of the label for Actos.  Also that year, France and Germany ordered the sales of Actos to be suspended in their countries due to the risk of health complications.  Other serious Actos side effects reported by patients include congestive heart failure and bone fractures, among other ailments.

Thousands are suing Takeda alleging injuries caused by Actos

The medical study results and FDA warnings have increased awareness of the heightened risk for bladder cancer following usage of Actos for one year or more.  The number of Actos bladder cancer lawsuits has increased exponentially since 2011.  Some cases, such at that of Diep An, proceed in state court, while others have been filed in federal courts throughout the nation.

To better organize the thousands of lawsuits alleging similar injuries from Actos, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) agreed to consolidate all federal claims into one court.  The advantage of consolidating all cases into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) is that it can eliminate the need for presenting evidence several times, and eliminate duplicative discovery.  Much of the federally filed litigation against Takeda is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in the Actos MDL No. 2299.

The states of California and Illinois have coordinated Actos bladder cancer lawsuits against Takeda in their individual states as mass torts.  A state mass tort, like a federal MDL, serves to streamline the pretrial process.  A state mass tort brings together all cases that allege similar injuries against the same defendant into one central court, where the judge manages the docket. Plaintiffs retain the right to their own Actos lawsuit trial and resulting  jury verdict or settlement.