Actos Bladder Cancer Risks Center of Studies, Thousands of Injury Lawsuits

actos-bladder-cancer-trialAccording to The American Cancer Society, some 72,570 new cases of bladder cancer will be seen in the United States this year and 15,210 people will die from bladder cancer this year. Most of these patients will be Caucasian, male, and over the age of 55. And, while the chance of developing bladder cancer is about 1 in 26 for men and 1 in 90 for women, risk factors, such as taking Actos, can affect these numbers.

Some of the symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine, frequent urination, or feeling pain when urinating. To confirm cancer of the bladder, testing the urine for blood or abnormal cells and undergoing a bladder cytoscopy to view the bladder and obtain cells are generally conducted, WebMD says. If bladder cancer is confirmed, the stage of that cancer determines the treatment, which may include surgery to remove the cancer, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to destroy cancer sells, immunotherapy to attack bladder cancer cells, and/or bladder removal. Because bladder cancer is known to return, ongoing testing and early diagnosis is critical.

In the first of some 3,000 Actos injury lawsuits to go to trial, jurors found that drug maker, Takeda Pharmaceutical, must pay $6.5 million in damages to a California man. The plaintiff, Jack Cooper, 79, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2011, had taken Actos (pioglitazone) for more than four years. In fact, his case was heard on an expedited because of his grave condition.

Although Takeda continues to argue that Cooper’s bladder cancer was the result of his health factors, including a prior history of smoking, a number of studies have associated use of Actos with increased bladder cancer risks. Also, in 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the Actos label to include a warning that use of Actos for more than one year was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer. That warning was based on an ongoing 10-year Kaiser Permanente study.

Other studies support the Actos-bladder cancer association. A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) revealed that patients who took Actos for two years were twice as likely to develop bladder cancer. Another study, published last summer in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that Actos use was linked to a 22 percent increased likelihood of developing bladder cancer.

The plaintiff’s attorneys in this recent case told that jury that Takeda hid the Type 2 diabetes drug’s risk. The trial revealed that Takeda’s studies of Actos found links to bladder cancer as early as 2004; however, Takeda did not advise United States regulators for seven years, said Bloomberg News previously. Takeda, Asia’s largest drug maker, was also accused of hiding the bladder cancer risks associated with Actos to ensure protection of its more than $1.6 billion in yearly Actos sales.

The plaintiff’s attorneys also produced internal emails revealing that the Takeda officials urged colleagues to push the FDA against mandating increased Actos label warnings, said Bloomberg News. Takeda executive, Kiyoshi Kitazawa wrote in one email that, “Actos is the most important product for Takeda and therefore we need to manage this issue very carefully and successfully not to cause any damage for this product globally.”

The jurors said that Takeda neglected to adequately warn consumers that Actos could cause cancer, said The South China Morning Post.

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