A lawsuit alleging that Takeda’s Type 2 diabetes drug Actos caused bladder cancer has gone to trial in Las Vegas, Nevada. Judge Jerry Wiese is presiding over the case in the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada. The suit was filed on behalf of two Actos users who were diagnosed with bladder cancer, allegedly due to use of the drug. One of the plaintiffs died of bladder cancer on November 25, 2013; his widow is being represented in the case.
Actos was developed by Takeda and Eli Lilly but is now solely marketed by Takeda in the United States. The drug is used to lower blood sugar in patients with Type 2 diabetes. However, the medication has come under increased scrutiny in recent years after several studies pointed to an increased risk of bladder cancer. In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that use of Actos for one year or longer may increase the risk of bladder cancer. The announcement was issued shortly after the drug was pulled from the market in France and usage was restricted in Germany; these actions were taken because a French study showed that Actos was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that has a high rate of returning. Treatment typically involves chemotherapy, radiation, medication and surgery, as with other cancers. Plaintiffs in the Actos litigation allege that Takeda failed to warn about the risks of Actos, and that they would not have taken the drug if they knew it could increase the risk of bladder cancer. More than 8,000 Actos lawsuits have been filed against Takeda; some 3,500 are consolidated before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, Louisiana and another 4,500 cases have been filed in state courts in Illinois, West Virginia, California and Pennsylvania.
At the start of the trial, Judge Wiese told the jury that Takeda intentionally destroyed documents related to Actos lawsuits. It could be presumed that the destroyed documents would have contributed to plaintiffs’ cases, the judge noted. Plaintiff’s opening statements read: “Takeda Pharmaceuticals already acknowledged they have no ability to rebut the presumption that the evidence they destroyed, on a massive scale, was damning. To put it into perspective, they could have filled a football stadium with the amount of evidence they destroyed if it were printed on paper.”
The national law firm of Parker Waichman LLP is actively involved in the Actos multidistrict litigation (MDL). Jerrold S. Parker, founding partner of the firm, has maintained a leadership role throughout the litigation by serving on the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee. Parker Waichman has also filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of individuals who developed bladder cancer, allegedly due to their use of Actos.