Beware: Actos Medication Linked to Bladder Cancer and Liver Problems

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Actos (Pioglitazone) is prescribed to treat Type II Diabetes. Patients with Type II Diabetes cannot properly process insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Actos increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and in conjunction with diet and exercise, is intended to help diabetics manage their condition. It was developed by the pharmaceutical company Takeda and released onto the market in 1999. Takeda’s partner Eli Lilly was also involved in marketing the drug.

Actos was a profitable drug for Takeda; in 2011 the sale of the medication accounted for 27 percent of Takeda’s revenue, and has brought in over $16 billion dollars for the company. In recent years, however, significant evidence has emerged to demonstrate the drug’s dangers.

The Risks and Side Effects Linked to Actos

Any drug that regulates blood sugar has potentially harmful side effects. Actos, like any form of the drug Pioglitazone, can have an effect on patients’ vision, liver, and urinary system. Actos can cause loss or changes in vision, or inhibit liver and bladder function. Difficult urination or bloody urine are signs of these adverse side effects. If you have been taking Actos and have these symptoms, you should immediately tell your doctor.

The risks of Actos, however, go beyond these side effects. A clinical study in 2011 showed that patients who took forms of Pioglitazone such as Actos had higher rates of bladder cancer—and that the risk increased the longer they took the drug. The increase in risk was quite low for patients who took the drug over short periods of time. But those who took the drug for more than two years had a 50 percent higher risk for bladder cancer than did those who never took the drug at all. In other words, the longer patients were taking Actos, the more they may have been unknowingly damaging their health.

Only in 2011, when the drug had already been available for 12 years, did the company specifically acknowledge the risk of bladder cancer associated with its top seller.

The Actos Litigation

Cases filed in federal court were consolidated in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The Court appointed Richard Arsenault co-lead counsel. Eventually, over 5,000 cases were filed in federal court with a similar number in state courts. The plaintiffs in several court cases alleged Takeda misled regulators and consumers about risks in order to protect its own sales.

In spring 2014, a Louisiana federal jury ordered Takeda and Eli Lilly to pay a combined $9 billion in punitive damages. That figure represents and still is one of the largest compensation awards of punitive damages in U.S. history. The decision came on the heels of another case where Takeda was ordered to pay $1.5 million in compensatory damages to a Louisiana Actos user. Courts in Maryland and California have also awarded damages to Actos users.

The Actos Settlement

In 2015, the parties reached an agreement to resolve most Actos bladder cancer cases. Richard Arsenault served as one of the attorneys on the Actos MDL negotiating team that secured a $2.4 billion settlement. Approximately 10,000 injured claimants would ultimately receive compensation. 

Experienced Actos Cancer Attorneys

If you suffer from bladder cancer, and you have taken the Actos drug, contact our firm today. Our attorneys have the depth of experience needed to take on Actos cases. We understand and are deeply aware of how this drug destroys lives and that’s why we’re willing to go the distance for you.

Questions And Answers About Actos And Actos Legal Cases

If you have taken Actos and your health has suffered as a result, you may have questions:

Question: Even though Takeda has already lost a big case, can I pursue a settlement if I have taken Actos?
 Potentially yes. Cases are still being brought against Takeda all over the U.S. If you have taken Actos for more than a year and have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, you should seek legal advice. The lawyers here at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault specialize for Actos bladder cases and have the qualified experience you should consider.

Question: What kind of compensation will I receive?
 It depends on your case. You can be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other costs, both economic and non-economic. Compensation is not promised, it varies from victim to victim of the harmful drug.

Question: What if a loved one has died from bladder cancer as the result of taking Actos?
 In this case, the family may sue for damages on a deceased loved one’s behalf.

Question: Do I really need an attorney to pursue a settlement from Takeda?
 You are not required to have an attorney’s help. However, drug companies like Takeda have access to their own legal teams, and it’s very difficult to take them on without experienced attorneys on your side. Compensation is not guaranteed, and having experienced lawyers that can expose how harmful the drug has been in your life can help increase your odds of being compensated.

Question: Is Actos still on the market?
 Yes. No recall has been issued, though the drug now carries a label warning of the increased cancer risk.

Question: Is it safe to take Actos at all?
 If you are a Type II diabetic, you should consult your doctor for treatment options. Given the risks, your doctor may prescribe something else.

Question: Which Actos users are most at risk?
 Obese people, those who are over age 65, smokers and alcohol users may be at further increased risk.

Question: What if I only took Actos for a short time?
 There is less risk for cancer for those who took Actos for less than a year. Nevertheless, be on the lookout for bladder cancer symptoms.

Question: Do other (generic) forms of Pioglitazone carry the same risks?
 Yes. If you are taking any form of the drug, you should consult a doctor to discuss these risks.

Question: How do I choose an attorney to represent me for an Actos bladder cancer case?
 When choosing an attorney, you should look for someone with experience in similar cases. You should choose someone with a positive track record, and who will work hard on your behalf.

Bladder Cancer - What You Should Know

Around 74,000 people are diagnosed every year in the U.S. Bladder cancer involves the growth of malignant tumors in the bladder lining. The disease affects men more often than women, and in particular the elderly.

The most common early sign of bladder cancer is bloody urine, which may appear pink, orange or red. Other signs include pain while urinating, increased urination, lower back pain, changes in appetite, foot swelling, or bone pain. These symptoms may be related to other conditions or may be benign, but you’ll only know when you speak with your doctor if you are experiencing them.

If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, there are a few different possible treatments. These include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and/or intravesical therapy (treatment applied directly into the bladder through a catheter). As with any cancer, early diagnosis and treatment are critical.

Richard J. Arsenault
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Recognized by several legal associations, Richard Arsenault has vast experience in complex litigation cases.