Actos News

Actos Goes to Trial in Las Vegas
Thursday, December 5, 2013

The third Actos bladder cancer lawsuit began in the Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 18, 2013. The lawsuit charges Takeda Pharmaceuticals with failing to warn patients and health care providers that Actos may cause bladder cancer. In both previous Actos trials, juries have found that Takeda acted negligently in concealing the risk of bladder cancer from the plaintiffs and their physicians. Last April, a jury in Los Angeles awarded $6.5 million to a California man with terminal cancer and his wife.  A second trial in Baltimore recently concluded with a jury award of $1.7 million to the family of a man who died of bladder cancer. Though the presiding judges nullified both jury awards and the cases are on appeal, the road ahead for Takeda looks increasingly grim.

Scientific evidence linking Actos to bladder cancer continues to grow. Two years ago the FDA required Takeda to add a bladder cancer warning to the Actos label after an epidemiological study found the risk of bladder cancer for diabetic patients taking Actos increased by 40% after one year. Several subsequent studies and at least three meta-analyses have since confirmed the increased risk, with some researchers placing it two to three times higher for patients taking Actos. Multiple studies have found the risk grows with longer duration of treatment and greater cumulative dosage. The drug has been removed from the market in France, Germany, and India.

Moreover, though Takeda has escaped financial penalties for the moment, the drug maker has so far been unable to convince jurors that Takeda did not, for many years, negligently withhold important information about the association between Actos and an increased risk of bladder cancer. A federal trial of more than 2700  lawsuits that have been consolidated before a Louisiana judge is scheduled to begin next month.

The current case is Allen K. Alsabagh v. Takeda Pharmaceutical America Inc., et al. Opening arguments began last week in the Clark County District Court of presiding judge Susan Johnson. The plaintiff has terminal bladder cancer and has been granted an expedited trial pursuant to a Nevada law that allows plaintiffs who are dying an early trial. Mr. Alsabagh is being represented by The Miller Firm, LLC. Takeda is represented by D’Lesli Davis, of Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP, and Joseph Hardy, of Gordon & Rees, LLP. In opening statements Mr. Miller told the jurors that neither the plaintiff nor his physician was warned about the risk of bladder cancer. Ms. Davis countered that, “People really need Actos,” (an assertion many researchers reject) and claimed that, in addition to taking brand name Actos, Mr. Alsabagh had taken an unapproved generic version from an online Canadian pharmacy.


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