Consolidation Sought for Actos Litigation Over Bladder Cancer

A motion was filed late last month asking for all federal Actos bladder cancer lawsuits filed throughout the United States to be centralized before one judge for coordinated handling during pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. 

While there are only currently only about a dozen lawsuits over Actos that have been filed in federal district courts, the request comes in anticipation of hundreds of complaints that will likely be filed in the coming months on behalf of individuals who claim they developed bladder cancer from side effects of Actos.

The motion was filed on August 31 by plaintiffs Glen and Nina Weant, who have asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all federal Actos lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois before Judge G. Patrick Murphy. According to the filing, there are at least 11 lawsuits pending in 8 different federal district courts throughout the United States involving individuals who developed bladder cancer after Actos use.

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All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations that Takeda Pharmaceuticals failed to adequately research their medication or warn about the increased risk of bladder cancer when Actos is used for long periods of time.

Actos (pioglitazone) was approved by FDA to treat Type 2 Diabetes in July, 1999. It is a once-a-day pill that increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin. The medication has grown in popularity in recent years, after studies linked it’s primary competitor, Avandia, to an increased risk of heart attacks and death. Last year, Actos generated $4.3 billion in sales for Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

FDA officials began reviewing the potential risk of Actos bladder cancer problems in September 2010, after interim data from an on-going 10 year study found that users may face an increased risk the longer they take the drug. Data from the study conducted by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Actos, indicated that after 24 months, the rate of exposure and the increased risk of bladder cancer reached statistical significance.

In June, an Actos recall was issued in France after a review of public insurance data identified an increased incidence of bladder cancer with Actos use.

The European Union’s European Medicines Agency (EMA) also conducted a review and confirmed the bladder cancer risk, calling for new warnings and a six-month review of every patient on Actos. The EMA suggested that Actos bladder cancer risk could be reduced by appropriate patient selection and exclusion.

Consolidation of the Actos litigation before one judge as part of an MDL is designed to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid contradictory rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the court, witnesses and parties. While the pretrial management of the cases in an MDL is often managed similar to how an Actos class action lawsuit would be handled, each claim will still remain an individual lawsuit.

During pretrial proceedings the Court will coordinate discovery and help facilitate a possible Actos settlement agreement.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is not likely to schedule a hearing on the petition until at least December 1, when they are scheduled to hold a hearing session in Savannah, Georgia.

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