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Actos Litigation Ongoing as Massachusetts Insurer Files lawsuit

In the wake of a $9 billion verdict against Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of diabetes drug Actos, which has been causally connected to instances of bladder cancer, the number of lawsuits filed against the firm continues.
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Boston Actos injury attorneys recognize that in reality, that $9 billion will almost certainly be reduced, at least to some degree. ($1.5 million of the award was for actual damages; $3 billion in damages fell on the shoulders of the company’s marketing firm.) However, the Louisiana jury’s April verdict in the first bellwether case of a multi-district litigation has sent a strong statement, to which other victims are closely listening.

One recent example involves a series of 10 lawsuits filed by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Massachusetts. In the case of In Re: Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation, the insurer is seeking to recoup damages it incurred after Takeda purportedly failed to warn consumers about the potential risk of bladder cancer associated with its popular diabetes drug, formally referred to as Pioglitazone. The insurer alleges Takeda knew or should have known the risks its product held with regard to bladder cancer. The insurer further alleges the company negligently or fraudulently concealed this link, failing to warn consumers of the danger. In turn, the insurer says it was forced to pay for costs relating to the cancers that developed – a far higher expense than the maintenance of the underlying Type II diabetes.

The exact theories laid out include negligence, breach of express and implied warranty, misrepresentation, fraud and violations of Massachusetts state law.

Takeda is Asia’s biggest pharmaceutical firm. In this lawsuit, the insurer names not just Takeda, but also names Eli Lilly & Co., which is a marketing firm based in Indiana that was contracted by the drug company to sell the product.

The complaints were filed as part of the multi-district litigation in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Louisiana, though Blue Cross is requesting the claims be transferred to a federal court in Massachusetts.

While this action made headlines, the majority of Actos lawsuits are filed by individuals who incurred high medical expenses and suffered the bodily pain of a cancer that was serious and preventable.

One of the strongest basis for the 6,000-plus existing claims is that prior to seeking FDA approval for Actos, Takeda commissioned a series of animal tests to determine the safety of the drug. The results of those tests suggested then that the drug could cause bladder cancer. However, the company continued to move forward in racing to get the drug on the market.

There were also a number of epidemiological studies carried out in the 2000s that reinforced the connection. However, plaintiffs allege the drugmaker ignored these results.

Takeda first developed Actos in 1999, and partnered with Eli Lilly from that point until 2006 to market the drug. Even those the marketing firm is named in the suit, a representative for the firm was quoted as saying that, per the contract held by the two companies, Takeda will be responsible for providing indemnification of damages.

What cannot be discounted in the bellwether case was the finding by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty that the manufacturer had destroyed evidence in the case. As part of her sanction, the judge gave the jury the freedom to consider that those missing documents could have contained evidence of the firm’s fault.

If you are the victim of Massachusetts product liability due to the consumption of Actos, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
FDA Drug Safety Communication: Update to ongoing safety review of Actos (pioglitazone) and increased risk of bladder cancer, June 25, 2011, U.S. Food & Drug Administration
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