Takeda, Lilly Could See Thousands of Lawsuits Over Actos Allegations

Takeda, Lilly could see thousands of lawsuits over Actos allegationsTakeda Pharmaceuticals Co., the largest drug maker in Asia, could potentially face up 10,000 lawsuits in courts around the country over complaints that its Actos product causes bladder cancer. Now, a selection of judges are working to decide where the mass of lawsuits should be consolidated.

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co., also said to be the subject of many lawsuits, marketed the drug in the United States from July 1999 to March 2006, and continued to support the product in countries around the world until 2011. In June, U.S. regulators found that some Actos users, which was the best-selling diabetes drug on the market, had a higher risk of developing the potentially fatal illness.

One New York-based attorney stated that evidence linked Actos to bladder cancer is "unusually strong and clear," and that his firm has represented about 1,200 former Actos users, adding that the total number could reach 10,000.

"We are getting calls every day about Actos," he stated.

Earlier in 2011, Takeda pulled Actos from the shells in Germany and France after the reports of increased cancer risk surfaced. The company's top selling drug had sales of $4.8 billion in fiscal 2010, comprising 27 percent of the company's revenue.

Officials from Takeda have not made any comments on how the lawsuits have financially affected the company or whether it plans to allocate funds toward the litigation.

"Takeda already revised the information on risks regarding bladder cancer on leaflets in the U.S. and Japan and is in the process of updating in Europe," said Mitsuo Oguri, a Takeda spokesman in Tokyo. "Takeda remains confident on the efficacy of pioglitazone for treating type 2 diabetes, while it continues to monitor the safety profile of the medicine."

Terrence Allen, one of 54 whom Takeda and Lilly say has filed a lawsuit, took the drug for five years beginning in 2007 and was diagnosed with bladder cancer this January. The warehouse worker says he has received two surgeries to extract the cancer from his bladder, and may need another in early 2012, according to the media outlet.

"If somebody had told me I could get cancer from Actos, I never would have taken it," he said. "There were other products out there that could have helped treat my diabetes without putting me through all of this."

Allen says he hopes his lawsuit will raise awareness of the serious health risks linked to Actos and will force Takeda to take responsibility for the injuries he has suffered.

According to Bloomberg, the company has already paid more than $6 billion in legal costs due to other medications under its umbrella, including Avandia. However, one Las Vegas-based attorney says suits involving Actos will differ from those concerning Avandia due to the more-distinct injuries that allegedly arise from Actos use.

"Bladder cancer is considered to be a signature injury because there aren’t a lot of other things that cause that particular illness," he said. "With a heart attack or stroke, you’d have a slew of other potential causes to deal with."

Now, Takeda's lawyers are arguing that Actos lawsuits should be consolidated in federal court before U.S. District Judge James Zagel in Chicago or U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, Louisiana.

The consolidation likely will save Takeda money by streamlining document exchanges, the media outlet stated.