Thousands of patients who claim that Actos can cause bladder cancer are turning their attention to Las Vegas this week as a billion-dollar trial begins over the product’s alleged health risks. The trial began yesterday, March 10, with plaintiffs accusing the drug’s manufacturer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, of failing to inform patients and doctors of the bladder cancer risk associated with Actos. Actos has been on the market since 1999 and is used in the treatment of Type II diabetes.
Takeda continues to maintain that Actos is a safe and effective treatment for diabetes.
The trial currently underway in Nevada is one of the first in the country over the diabetes drug and seeks a multi-billion dollar punitive damage award – the largest in the state’s history and something plaintiffs’ lawyers argue is warranted by the company’s “conscious decision” to withhold information about the drug’s bladder cancer risk.
Both plaintiffs in the case – Delores Cipriano, 81, and Bertha Triana, 80 – are from Clark County, and filed their lawsuits in District Court in 2013. Jury selection began at the beginning of February and concluded last Tuesday, paving the way for the trial to begin under the guidance of District Judge Kerry Earley.
Takeda continues to maintain that Actos is a safe and effective treatment for diabetes, pointing to medical studies which, the company says, have shown no causal link between cancer and Actos. The company claims that patients who were treated with Actos and diagnosed with bladder cancer cannot assume that the drug was the cause of the disease.
Two previous attempts to resolve Actos bladder cancer claims through jury trial were met with little success. In April, a jury’s decision to award $6.5 million in damages to a plaintiff in a previous case was thrown out when a judge ruled that the plaintiffs’ lawyers had failed to show a link between bladder cancer and Actos. Last September, a jury’s decision to award $1.7 million in damages to the family of a bladder cancer victim was thrown out on similar grounds.
Will the Nevada case fare any better? It’s far too early to say. There’s a long road ahead, and Takeda is likely to appeal any verdict that awards such a large amount of money to the plaintiffs. The initial trial is expected to last about ten weeks – ten weeks in which the eyes of hundreds of bladder-cancer patients will be turned towards Las Vegas.