Drug Maker Facing Hundreds of Lawsuits Regarding Actos and Bladder Cancer Risk
The saga of the blockbuster diabetes drug Actos continues with hundreds of lawsuits over allegations that the drug raises the risk of bladder cancer. Drug maker Takeda Pharmaceuticals stopped sales of the drug in France and Germany after regulators there took the risk seriously, and the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings but has removed the drug from the market. Doctors are being told not to prescribe it if the patient has ever had bladder cancer. The drug became a blockbuster because it made the body more sensitive to insulin in a one-a-day pill. And when the other drug in its class, Avandia, was linked to an increase in the risk of heart attacks and its use discouraged in the U.S. (while banned in the EU), Actos jumped to the head of the class. As of last year sales had jumped to $4.3 billion up from $2.9 billion in 2006.
But these sales figures are not impressive to the thousands of plaintiffs who say Actos gave them bladder cancer, especially patients who took the drug for years. Takeda’s patent on Actos expires in 2012 so the company does not expect the blockbuster sales to continue, although today doctors would be wise to opt for prescribing Actos only if patients have no other options.
A drug company has a duty to provide drugs that are safe for use by patients and Takeda failed in that responsibility by manufacturing and delivering a drug that was defective and dangerous. The lawsuits will try to prove what the drug company knew and when it knew it.