Closing Arguments Today in Third Actos Jury Trial

Closing arguments are being heard today in Las Vegas by the jury in the third Actos lawsuit to go to trial in the U.S.

Allen Alsabagh v. Takeda Pharmaceutical began on Nov. 21 in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County, NV, before Judge Susan Johnson. Alsabagh took Actos for four years and has been diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer. Alsabagh was able to obtain an expedited trial date under a Nevada law that fast-tracks the claims of dying plaintiffs. He is expected to live only a few months more.

More than 3,000 lawsuits are pending in the U.S. against Takeda Pharmaceutical, Japan, which manufactures Actos (pioglitazone), which is prescribed to treat Type 2 diabetes. Takeda is one of the 15 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

The thousands of pending actions include more than 2,600 federal lawsuits, as well as hundreds of suits in various state courts, such as the Alsabagh case in Nevada state court. The first federal case is set to begin on Jan. 27, 2014, in Louisiana.

Plaintiffs won sizeable awards against Takeda in each of the two previous state court Actos cases to be heard by a jury, but in each case, the judge threw out the award.

• In Los Angeles in April, a jury ordered Takeda to pay $6.5 million to a man who took Actos for five years and who has terminal bladder cancer. Judge Kenneth Freeman threw out the huge award, saying the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness was inconclusive.

• In Baltimore in September, a jury ordered Takeda to pay $1.7 million to the family of a man who took Actos for four years and died of bladder cancer in 2012. Judge Brooke Murdock threw out the seven-figure award because the deceased had been a smoker (although he had stopped smoking 15 years before his cancer diagnosis).

In both cases and in the Nevada case concluding today, plaintiffs alleged that Takeda knew for years that Actos caused an increased risk of bladder cancer, but did not make the information public. Doctors and patients must consider the risks of every medical treatment and procedure, but are not able to do so accurately when a manufacturer conceals information.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation reported on Nov. 18 that there are now 2,641 federal cases consolidated in the Western District Court of Louisiana before Judge Rebecca F. Doherty. The first bellwether trial in the federal MDL is set to start on Jan. 27, 2014. A second bellwether trial is set for April 2014.

The FDA approved Actos for use in the U.S. in 1999. However, after reviewing data from an ongoing 10-year Actos study ordered by the FDA, the agency announced in 2011 that “the use of pioglitazone for more than one year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.” The FDA also said “a duration of pioglitazone therapy longer than 12 months was associated with a 40% increase in risk” over the risk of bladder cancer among people who have not taken Actos.

However, the FDA has not removed Actos from the market in the U.S. The drug has been banned in France and Germany.

To learn more about Actos and to learn more about your legal rights, if you or a loved one have used Actos and have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, see our page on Actos Linked to Bladder Cancer.

Proceedings of the Alsabagh trial can be viewed by subscribers to Courtroom View Network.