Trial began this week in Nevada state court involving product liability lawsuits filed by two women who claim they developed bladder cancer from Actos, alleging that Takeda Pharmaceuticals failed to warn about the potential risks associated with their popular diabetes drug.
Opening statements began on Monday before a Las Vegas jury in Clark County Circuit Court, in a consolidated trial involving cases brought by Delores Cipriano, 81, and Bertha Triana, 80. Both women were diagnosed with bladder cancer after using Actos for treatment of type 2 diabetes, and both have undergone multiple surgeries to remove tumors.
According to a report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, attorneys for the women plan to ask for a multi-billion dollar damage award, including punitive damages designed to punish Takeda Pharmaceuticals in a way that would affect the drug maker’s bottom line.
Actos (pioglitazone) is a type 2 diabetes drug that has been used by millions of Americans. However, concerns about a potential link between Actos and bladder cancer emerged in 2010 following a study by French insurers.
Takeda Pharmaceuticals faces thousands of similar Actos lawsuits filed throughout the country by individuals who allege they developed bladder cancer from the diabetes drug. All of the complaints involve similar allegations that the drug maker withheld information about the potential risk from users and the medical community, placing profits before the safety of patients.
The Nevada trial comes as the first Actos trial is still underway in the federal court system, in a case that began in early February and is expected to run for several more weeks.
At least three other cases have already gone before state court juries, 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.
In the federal court system, all Actos cases filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide are centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings in the Western District of Louisiana. Following a series of early trial dates, known as “bellwether” trials because they are designed to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their cases, if Actos settlement agreements are not reached to resolve a large number of cases, hundreds of lawsuits may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts throughout the country for individual trial dates.