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Utah Couple Seeks Actos Cancer Compensation

A couple from Layton, Utah are suing Takeda, the makers of diabetes drug Actos, after the husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer. The lawsuit was filed on June 4, 2013, at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana as part of the ongoing multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings against the drug manufacturer. Thousands of plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against Takeda seeking Actos cancer compensation through jury awards or settlements.

The male plaintiff was diagnosed with bladder cancer on May 30, 2012. At the time he was prescribed Actos by his doctor, he was not made aware of any increased risk of bladder cancer. Both plaintiffs are seeking damages from the Japanese medical company.

The complaint is substantively similar to a growing number of Actos lawsuits alleging that Takeda failed to provide the public with adequate warnings regarding the risks of long term usage. According to the Actos lawyer representing the couple, Takeda concealed their knowledge of the bladder cancer risk, which purportedly increases by 40% in patients who have taken the drug for more than 12 months.

Plaintiffs across the country allege that Takeda’s research department ignored or downplayed concerns about its carcinogenic properties, and deliberately misled the FDA.

Canadian study supports allegations

Canadian research published in the British Medical Journal looked at the records of more than 115,000 patients treated with Actos between 1988 and 2009. It found 88 additional cases of bladder cancer per 100,000 people involving patients who had used Actos for two or more years. This number rose to 137 extra cases involving patients who had taken more than 28,000 milligrams of Actos, irrespective of the timeframe.

Another long-term study, due to be completed later this year , goes even further than the Canadian research. The 10 year analysis of diabetes patients found that the risk of developing bladder cancer was 30% greater after more than a year on Actos. Patients who take the drug for more than two years have more than a 50% increased risk.

Actos generated billions for Takeda

Actos is Takeda’s brand name for pioglitazone, an oral medicine designed to control blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

It has been a major generator of income since its 1999 launch. According to a recent Bloomberg report, it racked up sales of nearly $5 billion in 2009-2010, and pulled in $4.5 billion in 2011 – 27% of Takeda’s revenue for the year.

The company has faced fresh competition from generic versions of pioglitazone in recent years, after losing patent protection in 2012.

Actos cancer compensation verdict overturned

In a different case, a $6.5 million jury verdict in favour the plaintiff was recently overturned. The trial was the first Actos lawsuit to reach court, and jurors heard evidence that Takeda had already established a causal link between Actos and bladder cancer as early as 2004. They are accused of failing to inform regulators for seven years. The lawsuit presented as evidence a series of internal emails, indicative of a willful failure to update the Actos side effects labeling to reflect the bladder cancer risk, despite repeated FDA requests.

The jury verdict was overturned after Takeda persuaded the court that the plaintiff – an elderly, diabetic former smoker – was already in a high-risk group for a bladder cancer diagnosis.