An Arizona man who took the diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone) for several years has filed a lawsuit alleging that the drug caused his bladder cancer. The lawsuit further alleges that Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the drug’s manufacturer, was aware of the risk but failed to warn consumers.
According to the legal complaint, the plaintiff started taking Actos in March 2003 to treat his Type 2 diabetes and he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in November 2008. He alleges that the cancer is due to the side effects of Actos. The suit further claims that the defendants, Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc. and Eli Lilly and Company, were aware of the bladder cancer risk but did not disclose this to patients or their doctors in order to protect their financial interests. Bloomberg News reported that peak sales for Actos, in the year ending March 2011, totaled $4.5 billion, which represented 27 percent of the company’s revenues at the time.
Actos received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 1999 and was believed to be a safer alternative to Avandia, another Type 2 diabetes drug in its class. But in June 2011, based on five-year data from an ongoing epidemiological study, the FDA issued a warning that taking Actos for more than a year could significantly increase the risk of bladder cancer. The agency required an update of the Actos label to address this risk (http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm266555.htm).
Recent research findings support the link between Actos and bladder cancer. A study published in the British Medical Journal in May 2012 found that Actos users were twice as likely to develop bladder cancer after two years. In July, the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that patients taking the medication were 22 percent more likely to develop bladder cancer.
Parker Waichman LLP filed the lawsuit on the plaintiff’s behalf in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, one of thousands of cases that have been filed in a multidistrict litigation involving Actos claims.