An attorney told jurors in a federal trial over whether the diabetes medication Actos caused bladder cancer that the company put profits ahead of patient safety by hiding from patients and doctors a dangerous side effect of the drug.
The claim was made as a bellwether trial selected from thousands of other similar lawsuits got underway in U.S. District Court in Louisiana in a case that is being closely watched by legal observers and other Actos bladder cancer victims.
The lawyer for a shopkeeper who developed diabetes made the allegations in a case in which the plaintiff is seeking at least $15 million in damages against Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the Asian drug giant that manufactures the diabetes drug.
Bloomberg News, in its coverage of the trial, provided the following financial figures involving Takeda and Actos:
“Sales of Actos peaked in the year ended March 2011 at $4.5 billion and accounted for 27 percent of Takeda’s revenue at the time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Actos has generated more than $16 billion in sales since its 1999 release, according to court filings.”
This trial has been drawn from a pool of nearly 3,000 federal cases consolidated into what could become a huge class-action in Louisiana.
Two other trials outside this litigation were held in 2013 in which juries returned verdicts against Takeda Pharmaceuticals involving allegations that the medication can lead to bladder cancer.
In one case a Maryland jury awarded $1.7 million to the family of a man who alleged that his use of Actos caused him to die of bladder cancer. That verdict was overturned after the judge found that the victim’s 30-year smoking habit contributed to his death.
The Maryland case was the second in which a jury found in favor of a plaintiff alleging that Takeda Pharmaceuticals was liable over bladder cancer but had the damages overturned on legal technicalities, according to court documents.
The Maryland case was preceded by one in California where a jury found in April that Takeda should pay $6.5 million in damages over similar allegations, according to the court file in that case. That verdict was set aside on a legal technicality and is now under appeal.