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Merry Christmas: You Have Actos Bladder Cancer

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New York, NYPity the patient who takes a drug, at his doctor's behest to fight one disease—only to have that same medication allegedly trigger another, more deadly malady. That's the rub over Takeda's Actos, a medication designed to fight Type II Diabetes only to be linked to Actos bladder cancer.

Robert Bettorf is but one out of potentially thousands of plaintiffs who claim Actos led to his cancer. Nancy Rios—only 54 years of age—is another who fears losing her bladder following the recent emergence of bladder cancer.

Lawyers expect thousands of claims against Takeda Pharmaceuticals alleging Actos side effects.

What is particularly galling is the fact that Actos benefitted from the misfortunes of Avandia, after the latter Type II Diabetes drug was found to foster increased risk of heart attack. Sales of Avandia fell, while sales of Actos—considered at the time to be a safer alternative to Avandia—went through the roof. It has since become Takeda's best-selling drug, accounting for about 27 percent of the pharmaceutical company's annual revenue.

Now, it appears, it is Takeda's turn to squirm.

Bloomberg News reported on December 1 that Takeda pulled Actos from markets in Germany and France after it was linked to cancer risk. That risk is palpable, according to various sources. Some studies have determined that a patient taking Actos for 12 months or more are faced with a 40 percent higher risk for developing bladder cancer.

That doesn't even take into account the risk for Actos heart failure, a risk which Actos carries and has been well known. The issue over Actos and heart failure was watered down, somewhat, when Actos was compared to Avandia and was shown to be more favorable, despite the risk.

Now that Avandia has dropped off the radar and Actos has become the top-selling Type II Diabetes drug in the US, the spotlight has turned on Takeda.

Bloomberg reported on an Actos bladder cancer lawsuit filed by plaintiff Terrance Allen, a warehouse worker who developed bladder cancer last January after taking Actos for five years. He has undergone two surgeries to remove cancerous tissue from his bladder, and there may be other procedures looming on the horizon for the warehouse worker from New York. "If somebody had told me I could get cancer from Actos, I never would have taken it," the 57-year-old New Yorker said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. "There were other products out there that could have helped treat my diabetes without putting me through all of this."

Actos and bladder cancer is also on the mind, this Yuletide, of Chicago's Robert Bettorf—as it is for Rios, who hails from Reading, Pennsylvania. Tommy Thompson, of New Orleans, filed his Actos lawsuit September 9 in federal court.

Bloomberg reported that Takeda court filings in September referenced 54 lawsuits in relation to Actos, in various federal courts around the country.

However the legal community expects future lawsuits to number into the thousands over Actos and bladder cancer, as well as other side effects associated with Actos. One lawyer described the evidence against Actos bladder cancer as unusually strong and clear.

There is a lot at stake, with plenty of superlatives being bandied about: Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. is the biggest drugmaker in Asia. Actos is the company's biggest seller amongst its product portfolio, and is the top-selling Type II diabetes drug in the country—in spite of concern over bladder cancer, various other side effects and Actos heart failure.

And while in September Takeda reported 54 lawsuits, lawyers say the actual number eventually percolating through the legal pipeline will be closer to 10,000 with a host of plaintiffs alleging Actos side effects. Losing one's bladder to cancer in one's fifties—with potentially decades of life remaining—is not a pleasant thought, and does not make for a Merry Christmas.

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READER COMMENTS

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I have taken ACTOS for @ least 5 years. I have had UTI infections in the past, but about 2 months ago I was hurting when I went to the bathroom, pains in lower stomach, and where I go #1. Then I get a nother BLADDER (the DR. says) INFECTION 12 days ago. I am STILL hurting, pain in lower stomach, got to go alot,& where I pee feels like needle pricks some times. My Dr. took me OFF ACTOS last Wednesday. The Nurse called me in a 2nd dose of penicillin. Should I see a nother Dr.???? I'm getting kinda scared.

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