Family Awarded $1.7 Million for Actos Bladder Cancer Death

Actos attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on the latest from the Actos litigation currently playing out in Maryland against Takeda Pharmaceuticals; the plaintiffs in this case, the family of a deceased Actos patient, was initially awarded $1.7 million. The jury also found, however, that the man contributed to his own death, likely by smoking, which shielded Takeda from liability.

Maryland law dictates that, should a jury decide that a plaintiff in any way contributed to his or her own death after consuming a product (Actos), the manufacturer of that product (Takeda) may not be penalized. The plaintiff, Diep An, recently passed away from bladder cancer, the illness associated with popular diabetes drug Actos, and which is now at the forefront of significant litigation against Takeda.

Throughout the three-week trial, An’s family argued that his Actos use was the main contributing factor to his bladder cancer development and consequent death. An’s decades-long cigarette smoking habit was brought up in court, and Takeda managed to convince the jury that An at least in some way contributed to his cancer development by smoking.

Ultimately, after about two days of deliberation, the jury decided that Takeda should pay An’s family $1.77 million for his death. They also, however, acknowledged An’s own negligence, therefore shielding Takeda from actually having to pay his family.

Actos (pioglitazone) was approved to treat Type 2 diabetes in 1999, when the American diabetes epidemic was first becoming a major public health issue. It is now one of the world’s best-selling diabetes drugs and Takeda’s biggest sales contributor. The FDA first acknowledged the increased risk of bladder cancer in Actos patients in 2010.

In that year the FDA publicly announced its ten-year epidemiological study into the drug and its effects on cancer development. The federal agency released its five-year interim analysis recently – an increased risk of bladder cancer was indeed found among those Actos patients with longest exposure to the drug as well as those exposed to the highest cumulative dose.

Actos lost its patent protection in August 2013, and Takeda is now focusing its marketing and promotions forces on a new diabetes drug, Alogliptin. The FDA has already twice denied Alogliptin an application for approval, which does not inspire much confidence in the new drug or its manufacturers (Takeda is producing the drug alongside Furiex Pharmaceuticals).

Alogliptin is in the same class of drugs as Januvia, Janumet and the like, which we have written extensively about and which have been subject to growing litigation as well. Drugs in this class (Byetta, Victoza, Onglyza) have been linked to an array of ailments, including pancreatitis, cardiovascular disease, and thyroid and pancreatic cancers. One study found that Januvia patients had double the risk of developing acute pancreatitis (which often leads to pancreatic cancer) than those not taking the drug.

There are about 3,000 Actos lawsuits currently pending in the U.S. One of the first cases to conclude, in May 2013, resulted in a $6.5 million payout by Takeda. The plaintiff in that case, Jack Cooper, was diagnosed with advanced, terminal metastatic bladder cancer and requested an early trial date due to the severity of his disease.

An FDA study found that Actos patients had a 40% increased risk of developing bladder cancer, and women were particularly more likely (5x) to be diagnosed than men. Documents from internal studies reveal that Takeda knew about the risk of bladder cancer development even prior to Actos’ introduction in 1999, though it did not update the product labels until more than a decade later, in 2011. Actos has already been recalled from French and German markets, and Health Canada has significantly curtailed its use.

Actos lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently reviewing and investigating cases of bladder cancer from Actos use. If you or a loved one was prescribed a diabetes medication such as Actos, Victoza, Januvia or Janumet, and developed pancreatic or bladder cancer, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your medical bills and pain and suffering, and should contact a skilled attorney today for a free legal consultation.

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