Blue Cross Alleges Actos Makers Hid Risk of Bladder Cancer

The logo of Japanese Takeda Pharmaceutical Co is seen at an office building in GlattbruggLike a number of its customers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts is suing Eli Lilly and Takeda Pharmaceuticals over Actos bladder cancer costs. Law360 reports that the insurance company launched a series of subrogation actions in the Louisiana multidistrict litigation on Wednesday. The company wants compensation for the cost of medical bills for hundreds of alleged victims who developed cancer after taking the diabetes drug.

More than 10 cases were filed by Blue Cross and its subsidiary Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts HMO Blue Inc. alleging that Takeda and Eli Lilly is responsible for the claimant’s injuries related to the use of Actos. Blue Cross accused the drug makers of negligently or fraudulently concealing the link between Actos 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 lawsuit states.

Blue Cross alleges that the manufacturer knew Actos could increase the risk of bladder cancer before it applied for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The complaints state that Takeda continued to act fraudulently or negligently after studies in the past decade confirmed the association, failing to warn its customer and the medical community.

There are some 6,000 cases filed with the same allegations. The first Actos federal jury decision resulted in a $9 billion punitive verdict along with $1.5 million in actual damages to the couple who filed the lawsuit. That trial was overseen by the same Louisiana court. Although the $9 billion will most likely be reduced in the future, it led to a public row between the two companies about who is liable for paying the $3 billion portion of the verdict that fell on Eli Lilly.

In 2011, Actos was suspended in France and Germany due to its association with bladder cancer. That same year, the FDA warned that using Actos for more than one year could significantly increase the risk of bladder cancer. A May 2012 study published in the British Medical Journal found 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.

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