Lawsuit: Missouri Man Alleges Taking Actos for Five Years Caused His Bladder Cancer

A Missouri man just filed a lawsuit against the makers of Actos over allegations that the Type II diabetes medication led to his developing bladder cancer. He took Actos (pioglitazone) for five years. The lawsuit also alleges that Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Actos, was aware that the drug could increase the risk for developing bladder cancer, but neglected to warn the plaintiff, as well as other consumers.

According to the complaint, the man began taking Actos on or before May 20, 2004 through around July 18, 2009, about which time he developed bladder cancer, allegedly as a result of taking Actos. The man is seeking damages for permanent injuries, emotional distress, economic loss due to medical expenses, and living-related expenses due to a new lifestyle.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Actos for the treatment of Type II diabetes in 1999. In 2011, the agency updated the label to warn that users may face an increased risk of bladder cancer after taking the drug for just one year. 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 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that Actos was linked to a 22 percent increased likelihood of developing bladder cancer.

According to The American Cancer Society, this year, some 72,570 new cases of bladder cancer will be seen in the United States and 15,210 people will die from bladder cancer. 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 cells, 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 79-year-old plaintiff was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2011 and had taken Actos for more than four years. In fact, his case was heard on an expedited because of his grave condition. The jurors said that Takeda neglected to adequately warn consumers that Actos could cause cancer, said The South China Morning Post.

This lawsuit was filed on April 2, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana (Case No. 6:13-cv-0705), where it is one of thousands of cases pending in the Actos multidistrict litigation (In Re: Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 6:11-md-2299). Jerrold S. Parker, founding partner of Parker Waichman LLP, serves on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. Takeda Pharmaceuticals, America; Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. f/k/a Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc.; Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited; and Eli Lilly and Company have been named as defendants in this case.

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