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Blue Cross Sues Takeda. Eli Lilly Over Actos Costs

Jun 17, 2014

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts filed subrogation actions last week in the Louisiana multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the bladder cancer risks associated with the Type 2 diabetes drug Actos.

Blue Cross seeks to recover the cost of medical bills for hundreds of alleged victims. Standing in for its insureds, Blue Cross and its subsidiary Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts HMO Blue Inc. filed more than 10 cases asserting that Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Co. should cover health coverage payouts for personal injuries to the people insured, Law360 reports. The legal complaints say the defendants negligently or fraudulently concealed the link between Actos (pioglitazone) and bladder cancer. “By virtue of its payment for injuries sustained by an insured member as a direct result of the allegations herein, BCBSMA is subrogated to the rights of their insured members to recover from the person(s) or entity(ies) responsible for said injuries,” the lawsuits say. The complaints claim negligence, fraud, misrepresentation, and violations of Massachusetts law. Blue Cross also requested that the Louisiana court send the cases back to Massachusetts federal court “for further proceedings.”

Blue Cross contends that before Takeda applied for FDA approval for Actos, the company knew that animal testing had shown Actos could cause bladder cancer. Epidemiological studies in the last decade reinforce the link, but Takeda ignored the results and failed to alert consumers, the medical community, or regulators, according to court documents. Recently, in the first federal jury decision in Actos product liability litigation, the plaintiffs were awarded $9 billion in punitive damages and $1.5 million in actual damages, according to Law360. The huge award – though likely to be reduced – has provoked public sniping between the co-defendants over whether Takeda is responsible for Lilly’s $3 billion portion of the verdict. The companies partnered in promoting the drug from 1999 to 2006. Eli Lilly says under the terms of their contract Takeda is responsible for paying the $3 billion.

During the trial, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty sanctioned Takeda for evidence destruction and allowed the jury to take into account the drug maker’s apparent hiding, altering, or destroying of documents, emails and other evidence, according to Law360.

In June 2011, the FDA warned the public that use of Actos for more than one year could cause bladder cancer. Studies published since then in the British Medical Journal and the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveal the increased likelihood of Actos users developing bladder cancer, Bloomberg News reports.

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