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Actos Class Action Lawsuit Will Remain Separate from MDL

Actos pills

An Actos class action lawsuit filed in July as part of a larger multidistrict litigation (MDL) taking place in Louisiana will be tried separately, according to an order issued by the presiding judge. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty issued the order on September 16.

The class action lawsuit, filed jointly by the Painters and Allied Trades District Council 82 Health Care Fund along with other parties, alleges that Japanese corporation Takeda, along with their U.S. partner Eli Lilly, failed to disclose the bladder cancer risks associated with their diabetes medication Actos.

Without the judge’s order, the lawsuit would have been consolidated along with the more than 3,500 individual lawsuits already filed concerning the Actos link with bladder cancer.

Actos class action lawsuit filed over undisclosed bladder cancer risks

Like the lawsuits already incorporated into the existing Actos MDL, the class action lawsuit has been filed over allegedly undisclosed bladder cancer risks.

Actos (pioglitazone hydrochloride) was approved for treatment of Type II Diabetes by the FDA in 1999. The agency announced an investigation into the drug in 2010 when a 10 year investigation indicated it increased the risk of bladder cancer. At that time, a warning label was added to the drug’s packaging indicating an increased cancer risk for those who used the medication for more than one year.

Evidence then emerged, however, that Takeda had already weighed the addition of such warning labels as early as 2003 and that they were aware of such risks but failed to warn potential patients or prescribing physicians for fear of losing revenue. Such claims are central to thousands of Actos bladder cancer lawsuits that were filed in the wake of emerging information about the drug and its manufacturers.

The high volume of Actos bladder cancer cases recently filed made it necessary to consolidate the litigation as part of an MDL, in which the cases will share a pre-trial discovery process but will be heard individually, with potentially different results, if a large settlement is not reached before that time. In contrast, all parties in the class action lawsuit agree to accept a common decision.

Actos “bellwether” trial decided in favor of the plaintiff

The first “bellwether” trial, the preliminary trial set up to establish precedent, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana has already taken place earlier this year, with a record-breaking $9 billion in punitive damages included in the jury award. The punitive damages award is in addition to the $1.5 million in compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff, Terrance Allen.

The punitive damages award was the jury’s answer to evidence that Takeda had not disclosed the known bladder cancer risks of their drug as well as evidence that the company had actively destroyed documents containing evidence of this knowledge prior to the trial. The judge had already fined the company for these actions, taken “in bad faith.”

The defendant is currently seeking a new trial, based on the allegation that the jury acted with “passion and prejudice.”   Their request that the punitive damages award be overturned has been denied.

The bellwether case may set the standard for future Actos lawsuits in favor of plaintiffs. Two former cases decided in favor of the plaintiffs were overturned, while one trial ended with a defense verdict.