Takeda’s Actos (pioglitazone) is to blame for a man’s bladder cancer death, a Chicago jury heard. According to Bloomberg, William Whitlatch took Actos to treat his Type 2 diabetes and died of bladder cancer in 2006. His family filed a lawsuit alleging that the drug is to blame for his death, and it was argued that they should receive at least $10 million for pain, suffering and financial losses related to his death. The jury also heard that Takeda was aware of the risks but failed to adequately disclose this information. The lawsuit is the first of over 3,000 cases filed in Illinois to go to trial, which has been ongoing for four weeks.
Actos was approved to treat Type 2 diabetes in 1999. In recent years, there have been substantial concerns about the drug’s safety due to research showing that it can increase the risk of bladder. In 2011, use of the drug was suspended in France and Germany because of this association. That June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that use of Actos for more than one year was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer. The agency said that the safety label was updated to reflect this risk.
A number of studies have linked Actos to bladder cancer. In May 2012, the British Medical Journal published a study showing that Actos users have a significantly higher risk of bladder cancer after two years. The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study in July 2012 showing a 22 percent increased risk of bladder cancer among Actos patients.
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed alleging that Actos caused bladder cancer. It is also alleged in these cases that Takeda was aware of this risk and hid or minimized them. A federal jury recently ordered Takeda and Eli Lilly to pay a total $9 billion to a man who alleged Actos caused his bladder cancer diagnosis in 2006 after taking the drug for more than five years. His lawsuit alleged that Takeda failed to inform about the risks even though they were aware of this link. The public was not made aware of the association between Actos and bladder cancer until 2011, even though studies showed the link seven years earlier. The jury found that Actos caused his bladder cancer and “failed to adequately warn” about the risks, according to Bloomberg. It was determined that company executives “acted with wanton and reckless disregard” for patient safety. Because of this, Takeda was ordered to pay $6 billion and Eli Lilly $3 billion.