More Than 1,000 People Have Filed an Actos Bladder Cancer Lawsuit
Less than one year after the federal Actos litigation was consolidated in the federal court system, there are already more than 1,000 people who have filed a product liability lawsuit against Takeda Pharmaceuticals, alleging that they developed bladder cancer from side effects of Actos.
In December 2011, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered that any Actos bladder cancer lawsuit filed in the federal court system will be handled during pretrial proceedings by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty out of the Western District of Louisiana, where the cases have been consolidated as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
One of the first lawsuits over bladder cancer from Actos was filed in August 2011, there are now more than 1,000 individuals who have brought a lawsuit after being diagnosed with bladder cancer that was allegedly caused by the diabetes medication.
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Actos Linked To Bladder Cancer Risk With Long-Term Use
Actos (pioglitazone) was introduced by Takeda in July 1999, for treatment of type 2 diabetes by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. However, evidence has emerged in recent years that suggests users may face an increased risk of bladder cancer the longer Actos is taken.
All of the complaints filed in the federal MDL involve similar allegations that Takeda failed to adequately research the medication or provide proper warnings for users and the medical community.
The number of lawsuits increased dramatically after the FDA announced in August 2011 that new information would be added to the Actos warning label, indicating that patients who use the diabetes drug for more than a year may face an increased risk of bladder cancer. Similar warnings were also added to the related medications ActoPlus Met, ActoPlus Met XR and Duetact, which all contain the same active ingredient as Actos.
Actos Trial Dates Expected to Begin in November 2014
The federal Actos lawsuits have been centralized as part of the federal MDL for pretrial proceedings, which is common in complex product liability litigation where a large number of cases are filed involving the same or similar products and injuries. Such a process is designed to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and serve the convenience of the parties, the witnesses and the courts.
When the Actos MDL was first established, claims filed in various U.S. District Courts throughout the country were transferred to Judge Doherty in the Western District of Louisiana. However, after the organization of the litigation was established, Judge Doherty allowed direct filing of Actos complaints in the MDL court, as well as bundling of multiple plaintiffs onto the same lawsuit.
During a status conference held on September 20, the parties indicated that there are now more than 1,000 cases pending in the MDL, including more than 600 that were directly filed, many of which included multiple plaintiffs on the same complaint.
The parties are currently working on a discovery protocol for preparing certain lawsuits for early trial dates in the MDL, known as “bellwether” cases, because the outcomes are designed to allow the parties to gauge how juries are likely to respond to evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.
According to a pretrial scheduling order issued by Judge Doherty in July, the first trial dates in the Actos bladder cancer litigation are scheduled to begin in November 2014 and January 2015.
In the coming months, it is expected that a small group of “bellwether” cases will be selected as part of the pool of cases eligible for these first trial dates. These cases will undergo case-specific discovery and be prepared for trial.
If an Actos settlement agreement for the bladder cancer cases is not reached following this bellwether process, it is possible that Judge Doherty will start remanding cases back to individual U.S. District Courts throughout the country for separate trial dates.
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