Lawyers argue Takeda hid Actos bladder cancer danger to protect profits

by Heygood Orr and Pearson

Lawyers in the first Actos lawsuit to go to trial stated in their closing arguments last week that Takeda Pharmaceuticals hid the drug’s risk of causing bladder cancer from patients in order to protect billions of dollars in sales. More than 3,000 Actos users have filed lawsuits against Takeda alleging that they developed bladder cancer after using the diabetes drug.

The lawsuit currently underway was filed by Jack Cooper, a former cable worker who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in November 2011 after taking Actos to treat diabetes. Cooper’s lawsuit is one of many that have been gathered in a Los Angeles, California court. Other Actos cases are scheduled to be heard in Illinois. More than 1,200 Actos lawsuits have also been consolidated in Louisiana for information exchange before the first case goes to trial in 2014.

Widespread concern about the link between Actos and bladder cancer arose in June 2011, when the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that patients who undergo long-term diabetes treatment with Actos may face an increased risk of developing bladder cancer. In 2012, health officials in France and Germany recalled Actos because of the drug’s link to an increased bladder cancer risk.

According to lawyers representing Cooper, FDA officials asked Takeda in 2005 and 2006 to issue updated warnings about the health risks of Actos. Cooper’s lawyers argued that Takeda chose not to issue an updated Actos warning at that time because it could jeopardize the huge profits that the drug was generating for the company.