A panel of federal judges will soon decide whether Actos bladder cancer lawsuits should be consolidated in a multidistrict litigation. According to a report from Bloomberg News, legal experts say Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Actos, could face as many as 10,000 U.S. lawsuits over claims the best-selling type 2 diabetes drug caused users to develop bladder cancer.
Some Actos bladder cancer plaintiffs, as well as lawyers for Takeda, are arguing in court papers that the lawsuits should be consolidated in federal court before U.S. District Judge James Zagel in Chicago or before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, Louisiana. Others are pushing for consolidation before U.S. District Judge Daniel Polster in Cleveland; while yet another group of lawyers seek to have the suits consolidated in federal court in Birmingham, Alabama.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is scheduled to hear oral arguments for an Actos lawsuit consolidation today in Savannah, Georgia. A multidistrict litigation would allow all of the Actos lawsuits filed in federal courts to be coordinated under one judge for pretrial litigation to avoid duplicative discovery, inconsistent rulings and to conserve the resources of the parties, witnesses and the court. When lawsuits are consolidated as a multidistrict litigation, each retains its own identity. If the multidistrict litigation process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial.
One plaintiffs’ attorney told Bloomberg that the link between Actos and Bladder cancer is “unusually strong and clear.” Another lawyer pointed out that bladder cancer is a “signature injury because there aren’t a lot of other things that cause that particular illness.”
According to the Bloomberg report, Takeda acknowledged in September that it had been sued 54 times by people who claim to have developed Actos bladder cancer. However, attorneys said in the report that they receive Actos lawsuit inquiries everyday, and expect as many as 10,000 complaints will ultimately be filed.
On June 15, 2011, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety communication stating that use of Actos for more than one year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer. The June safety communication was a follow-up to one the agency issued in September 2010 after preliminary data from a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente demonstrated that the risk of bladder cancer rises with increasing dose and duration of Actos use, reaching statistical significance after 24 months.
In June, the French and German governments decided to suspend sales of Actos in those countries after a separate study commissioned by French regulators demonstrated an increased risk of bladder cancer associated with Actos in people who took it the longest and at the highest cumulative dose. On July 12, Takeda Pharmaceuticals officially recalled Actos from the market in France.