Actos Bladder Cancer Case Set for Trial to Begin Jan. 27 in MDL

Trial is scheduled to begin later this month for the first federal Actos trial, which will involve a claim filed by a New York man who alleges that he developed bladder cancer from side effects of Actos, a popular diabetes drug.

Although at least three cases have gone to trial in various state courts throughout the country involving former users of Actos diagnosed with bladder cancer, a trial set to begin on January 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana will be the first to go before a jury in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), which was established for all cases filed throughout the federal court system.

There are currently more than 2,600 Actos bladder cancer lawsuits pending against Takeda Pharmaceuticals that are centralized as part of the MDL before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Louisiana for coordinated pre-trial discovery and a series of early test trials, known as “bellwether” cases.

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A complaint (PDF) filed by Terrence and Susan Allen will serve as the first of two Actos bellwether trials in the federal MDL, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout other similar cases. A second trial is expected to begin in April 2014.

Federal Actos Bellwether Trial

The allegations raised by Terrence Allen and his wife are representative of other cases pending in the Actos MDL. According to the complaint filed more than two years ago, Allen used Actos from 2004 through May 2011, and was diagnosed with bladder cancer in January 2011. The lawsuit claims that the cancer was caused by Actos, and that Takeda Pharmaceutical failed to adequately warn consumers or the medical community about the potential risks associated with the diabetes drug.

Expert witnesses on behalf of Allen are expected to testify that Actos causes bladder cancer to progress more quickly, potentially developing within just a year of exposure. Takeda Pharmaceutical attorneys attempted to get the judge to throw out all testimony associated with that theory, but their pre-trial motion was denied after they failed to show how the plaintiff’s theory was unsound.

The trial is set to begin on January 27, and the drug maker is currently fighting an attempt by Allen to require as many as 15 company executives to testify during the trial. Takeda Pharmaceuticals indicates that the plaintiff is asking the court to overstep its boundaries, by compelling witnesses from Japan and Europe to attend the trial and testify.

The Allen trial will be closely watched by Actos lawyers representing individuals with similar claims, as the outcome may influence negotiations to reach potential Actos settlement agreements in other cases.

Actos Litigation

Actos (pioglitazone) is a type 2 diabetes drug that has been used by millions of Americans. However, concerns emerged in 2010 about a potential link between Actos and bladder cancer.

In addition to cases pending before Judge Doherty in the Actos MDL, a large number of cases have been filed in various state courts throughout the country. At least three trials have already taken place at the state level, with conflicting results.

In May 2013, a California jury awarded $6.5 million in damages over Actos bladder cancer in a case brought by Jack Cooper, who was given an expedited trial date due to his grave health. However, following post-trial motions, that verdict was reversed after the state court judge excluded the plaintiffs’ expert witness testimony.

A second trial was held in Maryland state court in September 2013, which resulted in a jury finding that Takeda failed to adequately warn about the risk of bladder cancer from Actos and awarding $1.77 million in damages. However, the case resulted in a defense verdict for the drug maker under a unique Maryland law, known as contributory negligence, as the jury also found that the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care for his own health, which nullified the negligence of the drug maker.

A third Actos bladder cancer trial recently concluded in Nevada state court, which resulted in a defense verdict after the jury determined that both Actos and the plaintiff’s history as a smoker contributed to the development of bladder cancer. In that case, the plaintiff also ordered generic versions of Actos from online pharmacies, which raised questions as to whether Actos or unknown factors in the generic versions purchased online could have contributed to the development of the disease in that case.

Following the series of bellwether trials that are scheduled in the federal MDL, if negotiations to settle Actos cases are not productive, Judge Doherty may begin remanding hundreds of individual cases back to the U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for separate trial dates throughout the country.


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