As a dangerous drug lawyer, I was sorry to see that the judge in an Actos injury lawsuit threw out a large verdict this week. According to Bloomberg News, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that there was not enough evidence linking Jack Cooper’s bladder cancer to his use of Actos, throwing out a $6.5 million verdict. The ruling reversed what had been a victory for the plaintiffs in the first of the many trials over whether Actos caused bladder cancer. Actos (pioglitazone) is a prescription drug intended to help control blood sugar in patients with Type 2 diabetes. After studies showed that it was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, it was withdrawn from the market in France and a warning was added to the label in the U.S. Drug maker Takeda Pharmaceutical is facing more than 3,000 lawsuits in the United States.
The case brought by Cooper was one of several gathered in Los Angeles. Others are pending in southern Illinois state court and consolidated in Louisiana federal court, where the first of more than 1,200 cases is scheduled to start in January. After the verdict in Los Angeles, the judge ruled that the jury should never have considered it in the first place because the doctor who testified for Cooper gave “inherently unreliable” testimony. Cooper, 79, took Actos for four years before he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Takeda’s lawyers argued that Cooper was always at high risk for the cancer because he was elderly, male, a former smoker and a diabetic. (All Actos patients are diabetic or at risk of becoming diabetic.) Cooper’s attorney said he would appeal the ruling throwing out the verdict.
The Actos bladder cancer lawsuits typically allege that Takeda withheld information on the link between long-term use of its drug and bladder cancer. The connection was allegedly revealed as early as 2004,or even in pre-approval rodent studies. More recently, a French epidemiological study found a strong enough connection to justify banning it in that country; Germany has requested no new prescriptions. Last year, Canadian researchers found that taking Actos at all increases the risk of bladder cancer by 83 percent, and even more for those who used Actos at higher doses or for more than two years. An FDA study looking into the link is ongoing, but right now, only a warning has been added to the label.
As a defective drug attorney, I will be interested to see if this verdict is restored by an appeals court. Judges rarely throw out the entire trial after the fact, and appeals courts typically give juries great deference because juries’ job is to be finders of fact—judges rule on the law. If evidence shows that Takeda did fail to disclose evidence of a link between Actos and bladder cancer—or even actively suppressed the evidence—the company would be liable for the injuries to every patient who developed bladder tumors while the truth was not known. That could be many millions of dollars just for the 3,000 lawsuits that currently exist. But more lawsuits are likely to be filed, because at its peak, Actos was a popular drug—and very lucrative one for Takeda. As a pharmaceutical liability lawyer, I hope those profits didn’t come at the expense of adequate safety warnings to patients.
If you or someone you love developed bladder cancer that you attribute to long-term Actos use, don’t wait to call Carey, Danis & Lowe to discuss an Actos lawsuit. For a free, confidential case evaluation, send us an email or call 1-877-678-3400 today.
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