Diabetes drug Actos associated with pancreatic and prostate cancer risks, new study suggests

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by Jim Orr

A new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found that the diabetes drug Actos may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer. Previous studies regarding the health effects of Actos have already linked the diabetes drug to an increased risk of bladder cancer.

The JAMA study examined patient records from 1997-2002 of more than 193,000 patients over the age of 40 who were prescribed Actos to treat symptoms of type II diabetes. Researchers found that these Actos users were 41% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer and 13% more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Previous studies have also found that Actos users who take the drug for an extended period may be more likely to develop bladder cancer. According to a 2012 study published by the British Medical Journal, Actos users were 83% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer of the bladder. The study found that the link between Actos and bladder cancer increased the longer that a patient was treated with the diabetes drug.

After laboratory tests suggested a link between Actos and an increased risk of bladder cancer, the Food and Drug Administration ordered a 10 year safety study to track the number of cancer cases among patients who were prescribed the diabetes drug. Just five years into the study, researchers found that Actos users were in excess of 40% more likely to develop bladder cancer. As a result of these findings, the FDA issued a warning about the bladder cancer risk associated with taking Actos to treat diabetes.

Thousands of Patients File Actos Lawsuits

This evidence of a link between Actos and an increased risk of bladder cancer prompted thousands of patients who were diagnosed with the disease to file lawsuits against Takeda, the manufacturer of the diabetes drug. According to these lawsuits, Takeda failed to properly research the safety of Actos and failed to properly warn patients about the drug’s link to an increased risk of bladder cancer.

In 2014, Takeda was hit with a $9 billion verdict in an Actos lawsuit filed by a Louisiana man named Terrence Allan who was diagnosed with bladder cancer after taking the diabetes drug. Attorneys representing Allan uncovered evidence that Takeda may have intentionally destroyed documents in the case, which documents may have shown that the company was aware of the link between Actos and bladder cancer. Although this verdict was later reduced to $37 million due to state laws regarding punitive damage caps, the verdict helped to set an important precedent in other Actos lawsuits that were before the Louisiana court.

The Louisiana lawsuit was the first out of hundreds of federal lawsuits filed over the link between Actos and other diabetes drugs and an increased bladder cancer risk. The cases were consolidated into a federal multidistrict litigation (or “MDL”) established to include hundreds of lawsuits filed by patients who used Actos or other diabetes medications, including ACTOplus Met, ACTOplus Met XR, Duetact, or the generic drug pioglitazone.

In April 2015, Takeda reached a settlement agreement with more than 8,000 patients who had filed Actos lawsuits over the link between the diabetes drug and bladder cancer. Takeda agreed to pay $2.4 billion dollars—or about $296,000 per plaintiff—as part of the litigation settlement. However, some Actos users who were seriously injured after taking the diabetes drug may choose to opt out of the settlement and pursue their lawsuits individually against Takeda. Sources familiar with the litigation stated that Takeda has set aside $300 million to cover legal costs related to these cases.

Diagnosed With Cancer After Taking Actos?

Because the risk of bladder cancer and pancreatic cancer among Actos users increases the longer a patient has been treated with the drug—and because it may take years after a patient has been treated with Actos before the first symptoms of bladder or pancreatic cancer appear—patients who were treated with the drug years ago may only now develop signs of cancer caused by Actos.

Actos users who have been diagnosed with bladder or pancreatic cancer or who have developed symptoms of the disease after taking the diabetes drug may be eligible to file a lawsuit and pursue compensation for their injuries. The first step in filing a lawsuit is to secure the help of an experienced law firm that can help guide you through the process of filing a case.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson is pursuing Actos lawsuits on behalf of clients and will be involved closely with the Actos MDL and other litigation matters regarding the diabetes drug. Our attorneys have accumulated years of training and experience in handling lawsuits involving dangerous drugs or defective medical devices, including cases involving the fentanyl pain patch, Yaz, and Avandia.

The attorneys at our firm will work diligently to ensure that your legal rights are fully protected in a court of law. Our lawyers have achieved verdicts and settlements of more than $200 million on behalf of our clients in lawsuits relating to dangerous pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other medical products.

To find out if you or a loved one may qualify to file an Actos lawsuit or join the ongoing litigation involving the diabetes drug, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free legal consultation about your case. You can contact us 24-7 by calling us toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions about your case to get started.