Lawsuit Accuses Actos Makers of Placing Profits Before Patient Safety

actos_profit_over_safetyA lawsuit alleges that Asia’s largest drug maker, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, put profits before patient safety. Actos (pioglitazone), Takeda’s Type 2 diabetes drug, has been at the center of thousands of personal injury lawsuits.

Takeda officials were aware, as far back as 2005, that research revealed ties between Actos and increased risks of patients developing bladder cancer, according to the lawsuit, wrote Bloomberg News. Meanwhile, despite this knowledge, a warning abut this link was not made for another six years, said the plaintiff’s family’s attorney, speaking in state court in Baltimore. The family of a deceased man brought the lawsuit and blames Actos for the man’s death from bladder cancer in 2012.

Jurors were told that executives at Takeda “knew the value of the drug and they knew the risks” Actos presented, yet chose to keep that information from the now-deceased man and his physicians, instead working to sell the controversial medication while patients continued to take the drug, Bloomberg News wrote.

The makers of Actos have been embroiled in a growing number of lawsuits that allege the Type 2 diabetes drug caused plaintiffs to develop bladder cancer. In the first of some 3,000 Actos injury lawsuits to go to trial, jurors found Takeda Pharmaceutical must pay $6.5 million in damages to a California man who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2011 and had taken Actos for more than four years.

This is the second of some 3,000 lawsuits that make similar allegations, which have come to trial. In the first case, the judge tossed the verdict out and the ruling is on appeal, according to Bloomberg News. In this case, Takeda argues that the plaintiff’s bladder cancer was not a result of his having had taken Actos. The drug maker also asserts that it appropriately warned consumers about the risks associated with taking the drug, Bloomberg News reported. The plaintiff’s side said that the man began taking Actos in 2007 and was diagnosed with “high-grade bladder cancer” in September 2011; he died in January 2012.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned about the risks of taking Actos. In fact, on June 15, 2011, the agency said that taking Actos for more than one year could significantly increase risks for developing bladder cancer. The safety label on Actos was updated to address this risk.

In fact, some research provides additional support concerning the link between Actos and bladder cancer. The British Medical Journal published a study on May 31, 2012 that revealed that Actos users were twice as likely to develop bladder cancer after two years. On July 3, 2012, the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that patients taking Actos were 22 percent likelier to develop bladder cancer. Some of the symptoms of bladder cancer are:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling pain when urinating

Takeda pulled Actos from the French market at that country’s regulators request; the German government also removed Actos from its reimbursed list of drugs, according to Bloomberg News.

More than 1,200 Actos lawsuits have been consolidated before a federal judge in Louisiana for pretrial processing. The first federal case is scheduled for trial in January 2014, Bloomberg News reported.

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